Mitt Romney’s Olympic-sized gaff on UK green jobs
The Republican Presidential candidate’s latest campaign document Believe in America claims that as a result the UK’s renewable energy policies: “green jobs created 2,700, real jobs lost 10,000.” In fact, 110,000 people in the UK work in the renewable energy sector and its supply chains today. The total UK turnover was £12.5 billion. Publicly funded incentives for renewables deployment have therefore been highly effective at leveraging in private investment. Romney’s claim is based on a single and widely discredited Spanish study (2010) criticised by the renewables industry itself.
Visiting London in july, before the Olympics, Romney said that because of concerns about security, it was “hard to know just how well it will turn out”. Romney now claims that in the UK, “The price tag in subsidies was exorbitant, rising to nearly $1.5 million per job in the wind industry. … job loss ratios can be found in the United Kingdom, where 3.7 jobs were lost for every new “green” job created.”
Really? Projections are notoriously difficult, but based on Innovas’s conservative assumptions for the Renewable Energy Association the sector’s turnover is estimated to reach over £24 billion by 2020, lifting employment to some 400,000 jobs to deliver our target of 15% of UK energy from renewable sources in 2020.
And yet, as Business Green points out, there is only one candidate in this election that green businesses will be supporting. Despite the policy flaws, Obama has overseen the consistent double-digit expansion of renewable energy capacity in the US, driven by a boom in wind and solar farms enabled in large part by his stimulus policies. “The question green executives, and not just those in the US, will be asking is what does this all mean for the green economic outlook? The answer is pretty bleak.”