Page 28: In addition, job gains in the renewable energy sector could be offset by job losses in the fossil fuel industry, as the Congressional Budget Office noted in a 2010 report. It takes time for the labor market to adjust to new conditions; workers might have to move to new locations or acquire new skills, and some workers might not be able to adapt at all. “Whenever government encourages job creation in one sector of the economy, there’s usually going to be job loss in another sector,” says John Whitehead, an environmental economist at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.
Page 28: Job creation, long-term economic growth, and environmental protection are all important goals — but that doesn’t mean they should necessarily be addressed with the same policies. According to the “Tinbergen Rule,” named for the late Jan Tinbergen, a Nobel laureate and economist at the Netherlands School of Economics, for each policy goal there must be at least one distinct policy instrument. Trying to achieve multiple goals with a single tool might prevent policymakers from choosing the most effective tools for each goal. For example, other sectors of the economy might be better targets for short-term job creation, and the best policy to help the environment might not be one that creates a lot of jobs. “Employment policy should be employment policy and environmental policy should be environmental policy,” Whitehead says.
Page 29: It’s possible that policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or conserve natural resources will create more jobs or spur long-term economic growth. Certainly, people and the planet will be healthier for them, and “to the extent that improved air quality or improved water quality will have a positive impact on human health, then that will have a macroeconomic impact through labor productivity,” Whitehead says. But measuring the success of environmental policy by the number of jobs created, rather than by the effect on the environment, could make it more difficult to achieve either goal.