Skip to content

The Green Jobs Myth

June 28, 2013

By Paul Homewood





We often hear that the transition to a low carbon economy will create millions of green jobs. In his 2008 campaign, Obama boasted how he would create 5 million new green jobs. And over here in the UK in 2009, Peter Mandelson claimed that his “Low Carbon Industrial Strategy” would create 400,000 green jobs within 8 years.

Leaving aside the not inconsiderable problem of how many jobs would also be lost as a result of higher energy costs, I thought I would ask the Department of Energy and Climate Change for an analysis of green jobs in the UK. The latest figures available are for 2010/11, and the first year monitored was 2008/9, so we have a picture of how many jobs have been created over two years. The full breakdown is in the Appendix, but the salient points are listed below.


  • Employment is analysed under the heading of “Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services”, and gives an impressive total of 939627 jobs.
  • However, a quick look shows that many of these jobs have nothing to do with a “low carbon” or “renewable” strategy, and include such functions as Waste Management and Water Supply. Altogether, 203891 jobs come under the “Environmental” category, and have nothing to do with the “Low Carbon” strategy.
  • Under the “Low Carbon” and “Renewables” headings, the number of jobs has increased by 23867.
  • The biggest single increase is “Alternative Fuels”, where 10180 jobs have been created. (This essentially is bio-fuels. It is debatable how “green” reducing food crops is.)
  • Renewables, in total, have seen an increase of just 9231 jobs.
  • Employment on “Wind” increased by 2643.
  • There has been very little change in other categories.

I certainly don’t want to decry any new jobs created, but clearly Mandelson’s claim of 400,000 jobs by 2017 was pie in the sky.

And at what cost? Last week, the Telegraph estimated that wind turbine owners, alone, received subsidies amounting to £1.2 bn. The latest numbers will probably show another small increase in employment, but based on 2011, the wind subsidy equates to £454,000 per job.

And, as well as jobs lost because of higher energy costs, there is the question of how many jobs will be lost at conventional power stations, as they are forced to close down. I asked DECC this question a few weeks ago, and they admitted they had no idea. Or perhaps, they did not care.





  1. June 28, 2013 1:53 pm

    Reblogged this on CraigM350.

  2. Keitho permalink
    June 28, 2013 3:13 pm

    Yet the Main Stream Media continue with the big headlines and actual information on outcomes never breaks the surface. Let’s hope one of the big papers picks this up Paul because the fuzzball of lies about climate change just gets bigger and fuzzier.

  3. June 28, 2013 4:12 pm

    So the UK defines a green job the same way the US does, I guess when you were formerly known as a “trashman”, now being called a “Green Job Employee” sounds more prestigious.

  4. Joe Public permalink
    June 28, 2013 5:16 pm

    Perhaps DECC was too modest to include the thousands of extra jobs created within its own organisation to create, consider, develop, administer and monitor the ‘avalanche’ of Green Deal contracts which as of yesterday have been signed by just four households?

  5. mkelly permalink
    June 28, 2013 6:09 pm

    Has anyone considered helping with the job/CO2 problem by getting rid of back hoes, bucket loaders, steam shovels, etc and just using men with shovels. We would put lots of folks back to work and eliminate lots of CO2 producing fossil fuel eating exhaust belching old technology.

    • mitigatedsceptic permalink
      June 29, 2013 11:45 am

      Why shovels? Their manufacture needs energy and they are certainly not ‘green’. Bare hands would engage even more labour.

      Carbon emissions from humanity go back to before the Iron Age. We should apologise to future generations on behalf of all our ancestors for extracting minerals and so abusing them (the minerals not the ancestors) as to make tools! Look where it all led to – civilisation! Back to Nature! But how are we to remove all that carbon emitted from the tool makers of the past – it must still be ‘up there’ somewhere.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: