At what cost?

Around 10,000 jobs could be created if New Zealand boosted its use of renewable energy.

. . . Chief policy advisor Nathan Argent said key findings show that the clean energy sector could give the country a much needed boost in the economy and create 10,000 jobs.

He said the findings estimate that the geothermal industry could be worth $4 billion per year to the economy by 2030 and the use of bio-energy – rather than importing oil – could save almost $7 billion per year. . .

That’s the good news in a report commissioned by Greenpeace – but there aredoubts over the figures:

Energy News editor Gavin Evans said although the research is good at highlighting what needs to be done, the job creation numbers were not reliable.

Energy analyst, Bryan Leyland was also sceptical about the findings and said they were completely unrealistic.

Jason Krupp at Stuff notes:

. . .  Where the report stumbles is on the financial side, giving no detail on the level of investment required or the economic tradeoffs, making it impossible to judge if the transformation would be worthwhile or simply a pyrrhic environmental victory.

Argent said this was a deliberate choice, with the aim of the report to spark a discussion rather than getting too bogged down in the numbers.

About  which Agnito at The Visible Hand in Economics says:

Which basically means this report tells us nothing….

As a side note, as an economist I would replace “financial side” with “opportunity cost”  as it it’s not just “money” trade offs that need to be considered…social, environmental, and any other metric that will be part of the cost need to be considered. You can’t just look at non-monetary gains on the benefit side and ignore them on the cost side.

Exactly.

It’s not hard to create jobs but creating jobs which justify all the costs is a far more difficult and complex matter.

The report mentions geothermal and bio-energy. Jobs would also be created by the development of hydro or wind generation, which are renewable but they always attract opposition  from people who don’t think the gains outweigh the costs.

The deliberate absence of financial or economic considerations merely confirms the fears of those who are sceptical of green, and often Green, campaigns which concentrate on the environment in isolation without taking into account economic and social concerns.

2 Responses to At what cost?

  1. robertguyton says:

    I’m pleased you brought up the subject of jobs. How’s Key going with his intense focus on jobs?

  2. David Winter says:

    The deliberate absence of financial or economic considerations merely confirms the fears of those who are sceptical of green, and often Green, campaigns …

    Can you explain how this is different than, say, the ‘estimate’ of hobbit-related jobs that was being flashed by the government not so long ago? Or the plan to dig up national parks, which talked a lot about mineral value but not at all about the cost of getting those minerals out of the ground?

    I’m sure the Greenpeace document is poor, but only a tribalist could think this sort of strategy is a {g|G}reen thing, rather than a political thing.

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