German finance minister: OK, yeah, we probably overdid it on the renewable-energy transition
posted at 7:21 pm on January 28, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
Environmentalists have been trying to get really super stern with President Obama and his “all of the above” energy plan recently, hoping to pressure him into make a more outright declaration of love and support for further climate-change commitments (not to mention an anti-Keystone XL pipeline one) in his State of the Union address, so I’d expect a healthy-sized shoutout somewhere in the rhetorical mix on the many ostensible merits of the heavy taxpayer subsidization of renewables, a.k.a. wind and solar.
Which, if you happen to be into things like prosperity, job creation, and price efficiency, doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense at the moment. Just ask the guys over in Germany currently reaping the consequences of some of the very same sorts of plans President Obama is likely to tout, via Walter Russell Mead‘s blog:
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported this morning that one in three workers in Germany’s solar industry lost their job last year. By November, there were a mere 4,800 employees left in the sector, the first time in four years that number has fallen below the 5,000-mark. That’s less than half 2012′s levels, when there were still 10,200 solar jobs. These revelations come hard on the heels of news that the $30 billion German taxpayers shuffled into green subsidies last year didn’t actually make the country any cleaner, and that more brown coal was burned there in 2013 than in any year since 1990.
Granted, Germany’s attempt to completely get rid of nuclear and vastly downsize on fossil fuels at the same time was an overly ambitious recipe for disaster, and the United States’ shale boom just isn’t going anywhere for awhile — but trumpeting the supposed wisdom of the taxpayer subsidization of “green jobs” that at this point in time clearly have troubling staying self-sufficient hardly seems like a great policy recommendation when you’re trying to grow your economy. Via the Financial Times:
Germany’s powerful finance minister said on Tuesday that Berlin may have gone too far in its attempts to protect the environment, saying his government must now “rebalance” its policies to ensure environmental regulations do not cost jobs. …
“We did it too good and now we have to correct because otherwise we have an increasing of energy costs which will harm jobs in Germany in a serious way in the medium term,” Mr Schäuble said at a forum in Brussels, where he was attending a regular meeting of EU finance ministers. “Therefore, we have to rebalance.” …
Last week, the European Commission unveiled a new energy strategy for 2030 that disappointed environmentalists because it lacked binding national targets on how much power EU countries would have to generate from renewable sources.
And if just trying to persuade national governments to forcibly do away with fossil fuels point-blank is still environmentalists’ best plan, they should probably get used to that kind of disappointment.