That’s the case made in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal today, which takes specific aim at the “green jobs myth” citing evidence from recent blue-collar worker protests in Europe, and the lack of progress coming out of UN climate talks in Poznan, Poland:
In Brussels last week, some 11,000 metal workers clogged the EU quarter to protest global-warming policies. They worry that their industry could be harmed and their jobs forced overseas; some of them carried coffins as props. Most of the marching workers were from Germany, where auto makers are also still fuming over new emissions standards. Audi and BMW and other carbon-using industries have argued both for shallower emissions cuts and a longer phase-in period.
This is certainly a new tune for the Europeans, who have lectured Americans for more than a decade to sign Kyoto because the planet is in peril. Their happy talk of a painless 20% reduction in emissions by 2020 has been mugged by reality. Carbon emission regulations come at a high price in lost jobs and lost competitiveness.We hope the incoming Obama economics team is paying attention to the worker and industry backlash in Europe. Mr. Obama is still embracing the line from Greenpeace and the Environmental Defense Fund that cap and trade can generate five million “green jobs.” If you throw enough tax subsidies at something, you’re bound to get some new jobs. But if the money for those subsidies comes from higher energy taxes — and a cap and trade regime would amount to as much $1.2 trillion of new taxes — millions of jobs in carbon-using industry are also going to be lost.
The Europeans once believed the “green jobs” myth too. Now, as blue-collar workers take to the streets, they have learned that climate-change legislation means green unemployment.
The Journal’s editorial appears just as Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) touches down in Poznan for the remaining two days of “high-level” talks. But as the Boston Globe reports, although Sen. Kerry continues to express hope the conference will stay on track, even a number of enviro-left groups have dampened their expectations.
Mr. Bell is a U.S. Fulbright Fellow to Austria, and MPA student at Seattle University.