Jennifer Thacher, writing on the New Mexico Independent, makes the point about job creation in the green energy world:
What about the arguments that investment in green energy will create new jobs? It is important to make clear whether we are talking about net new jobs or just new jobs in a particular industry.
In other words, are jobs in the green sector completely new jobs or are they jobs that are lost in another industry? As the statement points out, engineers and accountants work in green industries, but they also work in traditional energy sectors. From a purely “jobs” perspective, does it matter if green energy replaces traditional energy, and the accountants and engineers move between sectors?
This may have implications for different regions of the United States and there may be reasons other than jobs that cause me to prefer the green energy sector, but it is misleading to talk new jobs as opposed to net job creation.
I’m actually highly sympathetic to many of the ideas discussed in this statement. Energy production has external costs are not reflected in market prices. Because prices are too low, we consume excessive (and thus inefficient) amounts of energy. We should devise and promote methods to correct for these external costs.
We should also be clear about the road ahead. Reducing energy use and investing in clean energy has enormous potential, but lets not act as if there are no opportunity costs to clean energy investments.