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Debunking the “Spanish Jobs Study”: 9 Inconvenient Truths You Should Know About

Pete Altman

Posted September 23, 2009 in Solving Global Warming

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Unlike fine wines, bad studies do not get better with age.  That's why it's important to know the facts as the Institute for Energy Research, the Koch-Industries funded and former-Koch lobbyist-staffed front group founded by a former Enron executive, renews the Calzada attack on clean-energy jobs. They've brought the author of the "Spanish" study, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, back to DC to once again try to make the case that green jobs are bad.

This has been has been thoroughly debunked so many times I thought I may as well gather several in place:

1. The U.S. government has trashed the study.  The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory has weighed in with a white paper that notes that the Spanish study used a questionable methodology, lacks transparency and supporting data, and ignored several pieces of key information. In NREL's words:  "The recent report from King Juan Carlos University deviates from the traditional research methodologies used to estimate jobs impacts ...The primary conclusion made by the authors - policy support of renewable energy results in net jobs losses - is not supported by their work."

2. The Spanish Government has trashed the study. Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Spain's Secretary of State for Climate and Minister of the Environment for Rural and Marine Affairs, wrote a detailed letter explaining the factual and methodological flaws in the analysis. Pretty much along the lines of what NREL noticed, so I won't repeat them.

3. The study's conclusions are contradicted by the Spanish government's job data on renewable energy.  As the American Wind Energy Association points out:  "The Spanish Ministry of Labor has found that, contrary to the Spanish study, renewable energy industries have created 175,000 jobs and the European Commission found that aggressive renewable policy would create a net increase of over 400,000 in the European Union by 2020, giving a 'significant boost to the economy and the number of jobs in the EU.'" 

4. Even the Wall Street Journal doesn't buy the "destructive green jobs" myth in the report. As the Journal points out in a highly skeptical account: "... the study doesn't actually identify those jobs allegedly destroyed by renewable-energy spending."

5. The study author has clear ties to Exxon Mobil. As the Wall Street Journal noted: "Professor Gabriel Calzada is the founder and president of the Fundacion Juan de Mariana, a libertarian think tank founded in 2005. He's also a fellow of the Center for New Europe, a Brussels-based libertarian think tank than in recent years apparently accepted funding from Exxon Mobil." Additionally, ExxonSecrets.com reports that the "Center for New Europe" - where Gabriel Calzada is a visiting fellow - has received $170,000 form ExxonMobil since 1998. Calzada also is tied into the Heartland Institute, another well-known hub of climate science denial.

6. The study author is in the U.S. for media interviews being promoted by Big Oil. The sponsor of author's visit this week is the Institute for Energy Research, which is tied to the American Energy Alliance (AEA), a 501(c)4 political action group the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute formed to fight the Clinton administration's BTU tax proposal in 1993. In recent years, AEA has been funded by ExxonMobil and Koch Industries.

7. The study author has participated in a global warming science denial conference. Calzada was invited to speak at the2009 International Conference on Climate Change,which was asham ofan event staged by global warming deniers at the Heartland Institute. Held March 8-10 in NYC,the eventbrought togetherso-calledscientists, economists, legal experts, and other specialists who are all climate change skeptics. The DeSmog Blog compiled a tally on the funding sources of the Heartland Institute and all the groups listed as co-sponsors of the conference. They found that "over $47 million from energy companies and right-wing foundations, with 78 percent of the total flowing from one family of foundations tied into the oil industry.

8. Studies show that investing in clean energy jobs would be a big plus for the U.S. Through direct investment in clean energy and the leveraging of private investment by putting a price on carbon, ACES will fuel a new era in clean energy development in the U.S., along with the businesses and jobs to support it. Combined with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), ACES will help spur $150 billion in clean energy investments, which will create 1.7 million good-paying jobs throughout the United States.

9. If one applies Calzada's own methodology to the University where he works, one could justify shutting it down. In an apt illustration of the absurdity of Calzada's approach, Grist's Craig Morris observed that  

"The last annual budget of the University of Rey Juan Carlos, where Álvarez teaches, was 22,889,932.93 euros.  With a staff of around 2,000 people, that comes to some 416,180 euros per job, according to his own method. In other words, Prof. Álvarez's calculation would seem to suggest that shutting down his university would create 1.5 jobs (416,000 euros divided by 259,000 euros per job in the general Spanish economy) for each job lost. I wonder if Mr. Álvarez would prefer, to take the example he gave, flipping burgers 60 hours a week to his cushy job that allows him to upload draft papers to the web."

Generally I admire people who don't give up. But I admire them a lot more when the facts are on their side.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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