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back to article What would you pay for 400,000 new green jobs?

Good news emerged from the recent Low Carbon Summit hosted by bailed-out £10bn loss-making bank, RBS. Peter Mandelson got covered in custard, and the government announced a new industrial strategy. Apparently 400,000 new "environmental sector" jobs will be created by 2017, according to Gordon Brown, who reckoned 1.3 million …

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Bronze badge

wow

Brain - Wall ---- Splat !

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Genuine?

Ignoring the whole debate over whether CO2 is or is not a problem, if we reflect back on the first Industrial Revolution, or look at pollution in China today, it's evident that in both cases, at least part of what made production more efficient, was that businesses had no responsibility for the cost of pollution.

Basically, uncosted externalities. Now the central global warming argument is that CO2 production is as much an uncosted externality as more visible forms of pollution - which we now (in the West) charge companies for . . . which of course means they are less competitive.

And let's face it, much of China's industrial dynamism comes from the fact that it's labour is very cheap, rather than any revolution in improved productivity.

It's also evident that regulation has driven progress at times - pollution in cars drastically improved following legislation, simply because without it, no one had an individual motivation to drive a less polluting vehicle.

From a raw economic point of view, there was no 'net' benefit there - we wasted resources in developing and manufacturing less polluting cars that could have been placed elsewhere - but I think most people do accept that they want less smoggy cities.

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Anonymous Coward

Just Imagine

If we spent all that money researching better energy sources - becoming serious about generating fusion power, high altitude wind farms, etc.

Then we really could have a "green" energy revolution, if we managed it we'd be able to become net exporters of energy, replace our dying power facilities and become leaders in enginering and construction of future power projects around the globe.

We could have vast amounts of clean low cost energy allowing us to become a centre for both heavy industry and high end IT.

Sadly no. Money is gonna be burnt on junk, and we'll keep on importing our energy from foreign powers, whilst we become poorer and poorer.

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Coat

Title

And there was I hoping that a "green revolution" simply meant legalising dope, so that we could create a whole new legitimate industry.

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Sun God

I don't understand what is meant by a "Climate Change Policy", unless it involves mitigating the effects of Climate Change. The Egyptians worshipped a Sun God (as have many other civilisations), is this what they mean by Climate Change Policy? It seems to me that given man-made CO2 has little to zero effect on Climate, it's folly to worship it with trillions of dollars.

Can we have a Rational Thinking policy instead?

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Tom
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Not one red-green cent

But things aren't looking much better on this side of the pond either. Near as I can tell, the Big 0 and his minions are planning to make you guys look like pikers when it comes to wasting money.

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Tim

Hmmmmmmmmm

I must admit to being rather surprised to read that geothermal energy currently employs over 75000 people. Any idea what they all do?

Tim#3

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3x2

Underpants

(...) Our existing climate change policies are projected to add around 18% to annual domestic electricity bills and around 55% to industrial electricity bills by 2020.(...)

So allowing a little time for that 55% to be passed on to customers via virtually everything else they purchase - that is one hell of a tax hike. And lets not forget the many households (currently 3 1/2M) that will be priced into hypothermia come the first cold winter. I suppose we see now how the greens intend to get the population down.

It all begins to smell of good old fashioned Communism. Destroy your remaining viable industry using legislation and taxation. Hand the liquidation proceeds to a sector you have designed and created using the best models and forecasts. Wait for Utopia.

I think the Southpark underpants Gnomes and

our Government have something in common ...

Phase 1 - collect underpants

Phase 2 - ...???...

Phase 3 - Profit

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe6kGJDGctU

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Anonymous Coward

Must be using Bama-nomics?

The U.K. must have adapted Bama-nomics. How else can you create paper jobs without any money to pay for those jobs, so that you can get re-elected?

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Alert

Still living here in The Environment

There is this weird idea that somehow a green economy is something new that needs to be created, meaning the government starts getting all agitated and excited and so do the folk like mr Pile who want to be allowed to burn the planet to the ground in the hope they can find tuppence in the ashes.

Economics makes no provision for the long term, this is how it has failed us time and again. The whole system is geared towards maximum profit now with no consideration for where that profit has come from or potential problems caused tomorrow by today's excesses, although as we are learning at the moment, these are entirely possible.

Surely what is needed is to be able to green up the economy we have, rather than invent a new one and start pouring money into it for no reason? If you stick a plank in the ground and declare it is a tree it won't grow no matter how much you water it.. But a tree that is already growing can be shaped with a little careful pruning, the training of a few branches and before you know it, you have a strong tree that is more or less the shape you want growing the way you want. It seems to me that with a bit of light but firm regulation and some achievable and well-researched incentives we would be much more able to get the economy we have working in a way that doesn't damage our longer term wellbeing as a species without having to get too heavy handed about things.

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Hmmm

I can believe the figures for the environment sector alone for job increases, and would even go as far as to say they may be underestimated, but 87,500 in the wind sector currently employed and going up to 156,000? Are they counting general construction workers who erect the windmills? a temporary position, or is the the manufacturers etc. More detail should be given before ministers spout rubbish like this. Wave power, the UK has world leading technologies and expertise, but little investment.

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Linux

This is all greenwash cr*p isn't it

Too many public employees strangling the productive private sector...well for a start there's one too many 'one eyed scottish idiots' employed for my taste....

He hasn't got a clue. Statistsics....88.2% of these are made up on the spot.

All this green stuff does for me is add to my tax burden.

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Brown Jobs

As in manure

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Bronze badge

All right for some

Ben Pile notes correctly that, "it might be more sensible to invest in sectors that are capable of producing wealth, rather than merely absorbing it."

A Keynesian boost - government spending to get the economy going in the expectation of generating larger tax revenues later - may well be an appropriate measure to counter the current depression. But any medium- and long-term benefits depend very much on how and how well the money is spent.

The report assures us that the vital contribution from bureaucrats and gauleiters will not be overlooked in efforts to engineer this greenwashed bonaza.

"It will be particularly important to address the leadership and management issues that will deliver the culture changes required.in all sectors of the economy."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Genuine?

"Ignoring the whole debate over whether CO2 is or is not a problem, if we reflect back on the first Industrial Revolution, or look at pollution in China today, it's evident that in both cases, at least part of what made production more efficient, was that businesses had no responsibility for the cost of pollution."

Indeed. If one treats stuff like coal as an almost limitless resource and one only really pays for the cost of getting it out of the ground plus the cut taken by the mine owner (and perhaps some taxes)...

"And let's face it, much of China's industrial dynamism comes from the fact that it's labour is very cheap, rather than any revolution in improved productivity."

...then there are loads of things not even considered in the money put down. The point about labour costs and the lack of adequate social protection for workers is also very relevant: there are disturbing parallels between China today and Britain in the early 19th century. If one is to encourage the development of a humane society, the costs associated with giving everyone a reasonable quality of life must be included somehow.

In addition, it doesn't serve society well in the long term if everyone depletes resources at little cost to the producer or consumer suddenly to experience price shocks - that gadget costing only $1 to make (excluding employment costs) suddenly costing $1000 in a resource-poor world - and obviously some "pricing in" of the future needs to be done somehow.

"It's also evident that regulation has driven progress at times - pollution in cars drastically improved following legislation, simply because without it, no one had an individual motivation to drive a less polluting vehicle."

Indeed. Someone has to uphold society's common interests. Often, people will be against regulation from a "pro-business" perspective, but without regulation the costs of selfish business interests are incurred by the state, and it's not unreasonable for the state to insist that such costs are minimised or even transferred to those who benefit from the affected markets.

"From a raw economic point of view, there was no 'net' benefit there - we wasted resources in developing and manufacturing less polluting cars that could have been placed elsewhere - but I think most people do accept that they want less smoggy cities."

I once had an argument with someone who claimed that road/car taxes should only be spent on maintaining and building roads. That's another example of someone not seeing the bigger picture.

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Pirate

..how they got these figures..

..they invented them of course. it sounds good as a news blurb and they'll never be held to account for them when they don't materialise.

I work for a certain "ministry" so i am well aware of exactly how little effort went into this announcement. Mr Brown is trying to look good in front of his posh visitors but knows that he has zero chance of getting re-elected so he can come out with any old rubbish really, no matter how big the credibility gap.

Please don't vote this lot in again they make us do the same work five times over and then shout at us because we did what they told us to do. vote LibDem cos Vince Cable knows how to use a computator!

HP Sauce

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Go

Garbage In, Policies Out

"Apparently 400,000 new "environmental sector" jobs will be created by 2017 according to Gordon Brown - But what are these jobs and how did he get that number?"

Easy - a combination of using RAND() and EXP() in the faux spreadsheet.

Gordon Brown - Wake me up! Before you go-go! (Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo)

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Unhappy

The Renewables Obligation

Does this apply to energy generally, or just electricity, and is it all electricity or just the stuff pushed over the national grid?

I'd hate to think there was a 55% cost incentive for industry to move away from electricity generally in favour of coal, oil or gas, and away from efficient power stations in favour of crappy local generators. But this being government, I wouldn't bet against it.

If government wants to be taken seriously on climate, it should introduce a universal carbon tax and let the market find out what's cost effective. The present policy of having civil servants (or even focus groups, FFS!) decide on "the answer" and then taxing everything else into oblivion is just stupid.

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Coat

Last man out switch off the lights

By 2017, the only people working will be in the DWP funded by the IMF. Not sure where the money will come from to put more cole into the belly of the green gravytrain.

Mine's the one with the Jobcentre Plus namebadge.

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400,000 new jobs my arse

My company works in the 'green' market i.e. waste renewal and brownfield regeneration and we've just made massive layoffs due to lack of work, funny that. If there isn't enough work for the people already in the sector where the hell are 400,000 more meant to go?

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Anonymous Coward

Figues don't lie, but liars figure

These job predictions remind me of something I read some years back. Somebody took the world population and the number of Elvis impersonators for two different years and extrapolated that by the year 2002 everyone in the world would be an Elvis impersonator.

As for the US "planning to make you guys look like pikers when it comes to wasting money", we've already spent last year's GDP on bailouts and crap, and it's only April. We win! (or lose, depending on the way you look at it)

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Silver badge
Alert

Easy way

To create employment AND reduce CO2 emissions

Build 25- 30 nuclear power stations

each station will keep a construction crew of 1000 people employed for 5 years, and when up and running will produce electricty 24/7 instead 16/5 that a wind farm would(but you cannot tell in advance which 16 hrs or 5 days the power would be available from a wind farm)

Just think ... a nice fat 30% drop in the UK's CO2 emissions for NO loss of lifestyle

Actually, reading the article again, it would seem that about 10 000 jobs would be created in the recycling business to cope with all the paper shuffing and redtape created by the other 390 000 people who would be employed in various government depts and quangos.

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Coat

@Tim

"I must admit to being rather surprised to read that geothermal energy currently employs over 75000 people. Any idea what they all do?"

Peddle to generate electricity.

Mine is the one with the bicycle clips in the pocket.

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Stop

400,000 New Jobs At The Cost Of...

...how many traditional 'non-green' jobs? If more than 400,000 traditional 'non-green' jobs are lost in the process due to the increased cost to employers for energy and/or materials, the effort is a net loss of jobs at a time when many people are losing their jobs in the first place. Without assurances that other jobs are not at risk, this is the 'smoke and mirrors' front end to a typical bait and switch scheme.

Most people will find ways to pay their own direct increased energy costs. Most people will finds ways to pay the increased cost of other essentials such as food (yes foodstuffs take energy to grow, process, package, distribute and sell). Most people will find ways to pay for clothing, but will buy less as a result of higher costs and limited discretionary spending funds.

But as most people have a somewhat fixed to mildly increasing personal revenue stream, those increased costs in the essential to highly important areas of their lives will cause them to make adjustments in other areas of the fiscal lives. The bad news is where they will cut back on spending. They will cut back on all those non- and less essential items that other people derive their living from in making, distributing and selling. And mind you, that's not just the consumer retail trade, it's also the service trade as well. It's also the financial trade. In fact it's everything but the government sector. That will have an impact on employment numbers in all of those other sectors, and it won't be a positive impact, but rather a negative one. This is hardly the desired effect when many nations are experiencing rising unemployment and turn-down of GDP.

The fallacy of forcing a change in energy paradigm by subsidising the politically favoured alternatives through either direct subsidy or through taxes, fees or cap and trade payments, is that it prevents those who provide the alternative from having to figure out how to compete with existing schemes on a price per unit basis resulting in a permanent and irrevocable increase in the cost of energy. It becomes a rising tide which, rather than lifting all boats equally, drowns many of those who can't rise fast enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Green non-jobs

A shitload of the new green jobs being created are for non-productive jobsworths to look over the shoulders of productive wealth generators, parrot nannying cliches and indoctrination under the guise of information, and process the tons of strangulatory documentation requirements that have been introduced.

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Unhappy

How do you tell when politicians are lying?

Their lips move.

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Flame

And how many jobs are lost?

So they create (maybe) 400,000 new jobs.

How many old jobs are lost at the same time?

How much do the 'new' jobs pay compared to the 'old' jobs?

If these are not considered the whole thing is GIGO (Garbage In-Gospel Out).

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Stop

Where did they get the numbers.

Surely you jest.

We all know how it works. Bend over......spread.....insert hand and pull out number.

@Tim#3 - They're all soylent green.

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N
Bronze badge

Fanciful words

With little substance,

Weve already seen the government waste a disgraceful pile of money on the financial system with absolutely zero results, something we will have repay for a very long time. What makes them think that 400,000 new jobs will change anything, I mean 400,000 more people jumping into their cars to drive to work every day, is that 'green' or do they have to walk?

Whats required is initiatives for manufacturers to produce in an environmentally friendly manner, manufacturer items to last longer (for example: my washing machine is 23 years old & has been repaired twice) & can be repaired as opposed to thrown out & make a lot less waste so we dont have to chuck it away as some recycling is not very environmentally friendly at all.

Further more, I cant see how its possible to create 400,000 genuinely new jobs, I mean what next, climate change inspectors lurking to make sure we dont fart too much?

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Silver badge

Real Greening is cheap

The absolute greenest thing anyone can do is to grow their own food and cut back on agribusiness consumption.

Cost of creating job: spade, seeds, sack of compost... maybe $40.

Even if you go for the government gravy train option it can't cost more than about $15k.

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IT Angle

@N

There are really a few problems that work together:

Over consumption: Some years back we moved from a production constrained economy to a consumption constrained economy. The only way to "grow" was to increase consumption. Of course the governments like this because it shows up as improved GDP (the broken measure they use to think they're doing good things).

People being satisfied with a 23 yo washing machine is really bad for business because it cuts down on consumption. Therefore make crap stuff that is almost impossible to fix and advertise to people so that they feel inadequate if they have an old car/fridge/whatever.

Old cars, fridges, washers etc were very simple and pretty easy to fix: a worn belt or washer etc. The modern stuff is built of unserviceable components and designed for a limited lifetime.

It would be nostalgic to say that old cars were more reliable. THey are not - modern cars are far more reliable, but when modern cars do break down they're close to impossible to fix on a DIY basis.

The first step to creating sustainability is to get rid of this passion for growth. THis can only be achieved by finding fulfillment in non-consumer ways.

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Unhappy

re: How do you tell when politicians are lying?

Wrong. Politicians can lie without moving their lips.

It is if they have a pulse.

And where did they get their numbers? goatstatisti.cx

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Heart

History lesson for Charles

"The first step to creating sustainability is to get rid of this passion for growth."

Blimey, do you work in local government? Are you also incentivising stakeholders to become predictors of beaconicity?

The passion for growth is a legitimate human desire to make life less miserable than when it was 50 or 150 years ago.

We don't want to "create sustainability" and we don't need to. Resources means stuff we use, and stuff we can get at it with current technological and economic constraints. Humanity has always made better use of existing resources and invented new ones. So resources are only finite if we fail to invent replacements. I am guessing you are not wearing a bearskin suit or working under a torch powered by animal fat.

The rest of your argument just sounds like you're feeling guilty. Guardian reader perhaps?

By all means if comfort makes you want to cry - find a nice cave, mate and have a good sob. But since you're advocating making most people poorer, and having less leisure time and comforts - don't be upset if we tell you to hop it.

Bokay?

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