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Imported Lies: Debunking the Spanish Green Jobs Smear

Pete Altman

Posted April 16, 2009

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Spain is a country known for its romance, wine and bullfighting. But when it comes to economics and green jobs, it seems we're getting more bull than much else.

Our good friends at Media Matters jumped right on the case yesterday when Fox News cited a Spanish "study" about how green jobs somehow destroy other jobs.  

** Retroactive hat-tip: posted about this on April 7.**

We've spent a considerable amount of time showing how green jobs are good jobs for America, we were intrigued to find out what was behind this report from Spain.  After all, we see reports on a nearly a daily basis showing how wind, solar and other clean energy technologies are adding jobs even now in the depths of the recession.

So let's dig into this "study" a little deeper...

The folks at the media watchdog group, Media Matters, jumped right on the case yesterday when Fox News cited a Spanish "study". The problems with the Spanish report start with the author:  Professor Gabriel Calzada

The Wall Street Journal has this to say about the good doctor: 

"And just where did that study come from? 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 that in recent years apparently accepted funding from Exxon Mobil." 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.

As Reuters put it - much more kindly then we would have, by the way - "Calzada, as the founder of a libertarian think tank, might not be completely objective."

Of  course, it's one thing to have a bias of one kind or another.  And it's another to write an unconvincing "study."

Not even The Wall Street Journal buys Calzada's lame arguments about "destructive" green jobs:   

"... the study doesn't actually identify those jobs allegedly destroyed by renewable-energy spending. What the study actually says is that government spending on renewable energy is less than half as efficient at job creation as private-sector spending. Specifically, each green job required on average 571,000 euros, compared with 259,000 euros in "average capital per worker" in the rest of the economy."

"So how does that translate into outright job destruction? It's simply a question of opportunity cost, the paper says: 'The money spent by the government cannot, once committed to 'green jobs,' be consumed or invested by private parties and therefore the jobs that would depend on such consumption and investment will disappear or not be created.'

"On paper, that makes sense. But Spain's support for renewable energy came out of existing tax revenues-there were no special levies on corporate activity designed to underwrite clean energy.

"The money the government has spent on clean energy may have edged out other government spending, but it's hard to see how it could have edged out private-sector spending, especially when the Socialist government there has reduced corporate income-tax rates, most recently this past January."  (emphasis added).

The energy industry certainly knows a friend when they see one.  

No wonder they invited Calzada to speak at the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, which was a sham of an event staged by global warming deniers at the Heartland Institute. Held March 8-10 in NYC , the event brought together so-called scientists, economists, legal experts, and other specialists who are all climate change skeptics.  

On its conference Web site, the Heartland Institute states that "all of the event's expenses will be covered by admission fees and individual and foundation donors to Heartland. No corporate sponsorships or dollars earmarked for the event were solicited or accepted."  Nice try!  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.

Professor Calzada might say "Ole!"  We would say "Oily!"

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Tracey de MorsellaApr 23 2009 06:48 PM

There are so many things wrong with the way he reached his conclusions. A few that stand out the most for me are regarding Spains normally high unemployment rate and the bursting of Spain's homungous real estate boom and its impact on employment.

Spain's High Unemployment Rate - Spains current unemployment rate is 14.2%. Surprisingly, for Spain, that number is not that high. There are eighteen years when the unemployment unemployment in Spain was between 24% and 15%. In fact, its current high rate is lower than many of the years prior to the launching of the green jobs program. Since the green jobs program was launched, unemployment has been significantly lower in Spain. It is possible that the green jobs program prevented the rate from climbing back up.

Another issue. The bursting of Spain's real estate bubble. During the height of the bubble, Spain accounted for 1/3 of all Europe’s employment, when interest rates rose and the real estate bubble burst, unemployment soared. Similar bubbles had similar results to some degree in Canada, the UK, the US and a few other places. Economists predicted this outcome a few years ago and did not include in green jobs programs as a major factor. What is interesting is that Calzada does not even mention the real estate boom and bust as even being a factor in the rise in unemployment

There are other issues not taken into consideration. I wrote a very long post with links and numbers to back up my analysis on my blog.

You can read it at:

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