The left’s misleading green jobs claims: Renewable energy workers produce relatively little power
By H. Sterling Burnett
One of the main reasons President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement is the treaty is a “bad deal for America.” Among many other problems, it would cost a significant number of jobs. In support of his claim, Mr. Trump cited a study by NERA Economic Consulting that estimates if the United States were to meet its carbon-dioxide emissions reduction obligations under the Paris climate agreement, it would cost the economy nearly $3 trillion and the United States would lose 6.5 million industrial jobs by 2040, including 3.1 million in the manufacturing sector.
Since Mr. Trump’s announcement, many advocates for staying in the treaty have either questioned the president’s claim about job losses or said green-energy technologies, especially solar, are engines of job creation that would benefit if the United States were to stay in the Paris agreement. They have argued there are now more jobs in the solar segments of the electric power industry than in the coal, natural gas and oil segments combined.
This claim is true — at least, in a limited sense. In absolute numbers, the U.S. Department of Energy reports solar power employed 43 percent of the electric power generation sector’s workforce in 2016, employing more than 374,000 workers who construct, assemble, sell or install solar panels. Fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent (187,000) of the jobs directly tied to generating electric power.
Although there are a significant number of solar-related jobs, the often-repeated figures above are very misleading for numerous reasons….