The price of green jobs? Learn from Spain

The group Western Business Roundtable sent an email yesterday about a Spanish study concluding that for every green job created in Spain resulted in the loss of 2.2 other jobs.

The study finds that only one in 10 renewable energy jobs created in Spain were of a permanent nature. Two-thirds consisted of temporary jobs in construction, fabrication and installation jobs; one quarter were positions in administration, marketing and projects engineering; and only one of ten was related to more permanent operations and maintenance of renewable power systems.

The study was prepared under the direction of Dr. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

The study calculated that, since 2000, Spain spent $774,000 to create each “green job”, including subsidies of more than $1.3 million per wind industry job. It found that creating those jobs resulted in the destruction of nearly 113,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy, or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green job” created. Jobs lost were mostly in the fields of metallurgy, non-metallic mining and food processing, beverage and tobacco.

“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” Calzada said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Western Business Roundtable also noted that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently calculated that Spain’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by nearly 50 percent since the launch of the subsidized “green jobs” program.

The moral of the study, according to Calzada: Renewable energy stimulus and subsidies are not the answer to solving the current economic crisis.

I wonder what will?

6 Responses to The price of green jobs? Learn from Spain

  1. Tracey de Morsella 23 April, 2009 at 6:58 pm #

    There are so many things wrong with the way he reached his conclusions. A few that stand out the most for me are regarding Spains normally high unemployment rate and the bursting of Spain’s homungous real estate boom and its impact on employment.

    Spain’s High Unemployment Rate – Spains current unemployment rate is 14.2%. Surprisingly, for Spain, that number is not that high. There are eighteen years when the unemployment unemployment in Spain was between 24% and 15%. In fact, its current high rate is lower than many of the years prior to the launching of the green jobs program. Since the green jobs program was launched, unemployment has been significantly lower in Spain. It is possible that the green jobs program prevented the rate from climbing back up.

    Another issue. The bursting of Spain’s real estate bubble. During the height of the bubble, Spain accounted for 1/3 of all Europe’s employment, when interest rates rose and the real estate bubble burst, unemployment soared. Similar bubbles had similar results to some degree in Canada, the UK, the US and a few other places. Economists predicted this outcome a few years ago and did not include in green jobs programs as a major factor. What is interesting is that Calzada does not even mention the real estate boom and bust as even being a factor in the rise in unemployment

    There are other issues not taken into consideration. I wrote a very long post with links and numbers to back up my analysis on my blog.

    You can read it at:

  2. Doris 28 April, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi Tracey,
    Thank you for the comment and link. One thing I can say is that there have been definitely numerous studies that came out on the economics of green jobs. There are always pros and cons on each and every economic policies being proposed but personally for me, I think governments should really invest in renewable energy developments whether it can create new jobs or not because the world really cannot live on petroleum and natural gas alone.

  3. Tracey de Morsella 5 May, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    Hi Doris:

    Thanks you for responding to my comment. I think if there is something wrong with a plan to create green jobs, we should know about it. If it is not a good idea to set up and implement a renewable energy plan, even if you support such an effort, it should not be done–or efforts should be made to adapt the plan to address the flaws. The issue should be approached scientifically.

    However, the more you read about Calzada’s study, the more it seems as if his study, is not even a study, but a propaganda tool. For instance, he does not use figures that are remotely close to the official figures for green jobs created and does not explain where he gets his numbers – which by the way are 2/3 less than the actual number of jobs created. He counts on us not knowing the actual numbers.

    While he put together a forty page document, he is counting on people like you and me not actually reading the study. He knows that most of us will assume that it is a legitimate study and in the end assume there are some truths in his hypothesis. That is the position from where I started.

    In the end, whether his study is wrong or not is irrelevant, for its purpose is not to warn us about something harmful or prevent policy makers from making mistakes, but to create doubt and erode support for something he is being paid to oppose. His goal, as an admitted climate change denier and disbeliever of peak oil, is to get people to question facts. That is what he is getting paid for.

    I realize I’m preaching to the choir, but I have serious issues with the legitimacy of this study. The issues he raised should be explored, but by someone willing to examine the issues scientifically.

    Thanks for responding. Jumping down from my soapbox now. :-)

  4. Josey 15 February, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    This article hits the nail right on the head. The “greenest” jobs are ones created by entrepreneurs and or the most efficient firms, in pursuit of profit. By finding ways to lower costs, whether with new technology or however else, you are reducing inputs and holding output constant. Governments cannot do this with subsidies. Once government becomes active in an economy, not just an enforcer of boundaries that decide the rules of the game, they only lower efficiency and miss-allocate resources. The economy with the least active government is effectively the “greenest”.

  5. Just Another Dumb Conservative 1 April, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    I find it ironic that the the supposed debunking concentrates on Prof. Calzada’s methodology yet seems to blindly accept the “settled science” of global warming, ignoring the fact that the supporting data on that has turned out to be largely faulty where it was not outright fraudulent. Of course, it’s equally notable that the debunking appears not to dispute the finding about Spain’s carbon dioxide emissions being almost 50% higher than before they wasted all their money on the green job initiatives.

    So let’s summarize. We should throw a vast amount of money we don’t have at this experiment that can’t be shown to produce energy as efficiently and reliably as current methods, nor lower overall unemployment and that appears to aggravate rather than alleviate the alleged carbon emission problem.

    This is the kind of thinking you get when you have a government run by a group of people who have never had to compete or function in the private sector where an inconvenient issue like profit/loss comes into play.

  6. B. E. 2 May, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    This post was put up on April 8. On April 30 it came out that Spain’s unemployment is now around 20%.

    That makes Tracey’s glass is half full analysis of Spain’s green economy and unemployment of 14% a lost point.

    Maybe they call it a green economy because the spikes it causes in unemployment are enough to make you sick.

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