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« Same old New Scientist | Main | Fade to grey »

Green jobs: £1 million each

Stephen Lovegrove is the permanent secretary at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, although when hearing him speak about his work one could sometimes be forgiven for mistaking him for, say, someone from Greenpeace. Take his speech to the Concito conference in Denmark a few weeks ago for example.

For a start, Concito describes itself as a green think tank. One therefore wonders why a politically neutral civil servant is lending his support to environmentalists - who are nothing if not a political movement - in this way. And then read the text of the speech and try to work out whether this is a politically neutral civil servant putting government policy into action or a fully paid up member of the green movement:

...we believe that in realising the transition to a low carbon economy we a driving economic growth now, and laying the foundations for a more-prosperous, more-resilient economy in the decades to come.

For the UK, the [Climate Change] Act has provided a symbol of our ambition.

In all of this Government’s resolve is tested and the cost questioned.

But we are doing this because we continue to recognise the very real threat to our prosperity posed by Climate Change.

And then what about his remarks about green jobs?

...since 2010 £29bn has been invested in UK renewables creating around 30,000 jobs - up and down supply chains and across the UK – many in some of the most-deprived areas far from economic centres.

I make that £1 million per job created. No wonder renewables are so expensive.

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Reader Comments (34)

You have the parlous state of "government" in a nutshell.

Meanwhile in the real world you have Benny Peiser pointing out the reality.

Dec 5, 2013 at 10:12 AM | Registered Commenterretireddave

I'm sure that the greens in the government and civil service are "driving economic growth" - but in which direction? Could our economic growth end up in the same place as all the global warming generated by the CO2 emissions of the past 17 years?

Dec 5, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

An awful lot of those green jobs are highly skilled and highly paid, such as all those jobs in which people with buckets and sponges spend all day cleaning birdcrap off solar panels.

Dec 5, 2013 at 10:26 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Here is a letter from Stephen Lovegrove to Sir Robert Smith regarding Lord Deben's conflict of interests..

Dec 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

As a propagandist, Stephen Lovegrove is well qualified to be Permanent Secretary at DECC

Stephen became Permanent Secretary for DECC in February 2013.

Prior to DECC, he spent 9 years at the Shareholder Executive and was appointed Chief Executive in June 2007. Before that he spent ten years at Deutsche Bank, where he was the head of the European media team working on a wide range of capital raisings, acquisitions and divestments in all the sub-sectors of the media industry. Before the City, Stephen spent five years as a strategic consultant.

Stephen also sat on the board of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and is a trustee of the Charities Aid Foundation.

He's obviously the sort of person with a deep understanding of what is needed to give us a secure, reliable and affordable supply of energy.

Dec 5, 2013 at 10:38 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Between 2008 and 2012, a measly 3754 new jobs were created in the wind/solar sectors.

Moreover, total jobs actually FELL between 2010/11 and 2011/12.

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

Leave the guy alone. He's been put there to repeat government drivel and by golly he has been doing just that.

The perfect future Knight of the Realm, no doubt.

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:12 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

What 'threat' from 'climate change'? In the UK most of us would quite like to have a climate like Provence.
What 'prosperity'? A trillion in debt and exporting real jobs abroad thanks to the ruinous climate change act.

Are we back to the widely discredited Stern report again? Is he the only one they listen to?

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The Civil Service Code

Integrity – putting the obligations of public service above personal interests
Honesty – being truthful and open
Objectivity – basing advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence
Impartiality – acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving governments of different political parties equally well

Read the Civil Service Code from here

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Of more concern is who appoints these people. Either they are not up to the task or are driving the agenda.

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

When beautifully groomed Permanent Secretaries use words like "toolkit" how does the audience keep a straight face?

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

You have to laugh, when you see something like this:

Nevertheless, clearly this sort of system only works if it is also underpinned by high-quality advice that is both far-sighted and impartial.
All very true, but then he ruins it:
So it is the job of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change to recommend the levels of each carbon budget around 12 years in advance.
Even the title, “Committee on Climate Change”, is far from impartial; it assumes that climate change is a significant factor in everyday life (it is not), that there is some way of affecting it (there is not), and that government can be instrumental in its “amelioration” (it cannot). That things like this are costing the tax-payer so many millions is what is getting my blood close to boiling point; millions squandered on the say-so of known loonies; millions quite openly thrown at already rich folk (many with close – and explicitly visible! – connections with the pay-masters); all done without any care or reference to those who are actually funding the whole farce: the tax-payer – you and me!

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

What does it mean to the average wage earner?

Orders of magnitude.

40 years at £25k per year
50 years at £20k per year

£1m is his whole life’s accumulated earnings.

Maybe at DECC they simply add up the known expenditure and divide by £1m to get the notional number of jobs ‘created’. If so, one JC (job created) is in fact a new unit of currency equal to £1m.

When we pay £50m (50 JC) per day into the EU’s central coffers without any tangible benefit at all, 50 jobs per day are leaving the country.

The following article was the first to come up on a net search:

It estimates that the EU costs us some £120b per year. Therefore, in DECC units the EU costs us 120,000 jobs per year. In other words, leaving the EU would create for us 120,000 jobs per year according to a reasoning equivalent to that which they themselves use, apparently.

Orders of magnitude.

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Well

Mark Well: The DECC civil servants will use typical civil servant's salaries to count jobs. A typical civil servant will cost at least £100k per year, taking account of salary, NI contributions, pension contributions and overheads. Thus the EU will only be costing us about 10,000 civil service jobs per year which is below the radar within Whitehall. It is certain that if we got out of the EU, at least an extra 10,000 civil servants would be needed to get rid of all those unnecessary EU regulations.

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:51 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

£29,000m / 29,000= £1m/job
You bloody D*niers don't come here with your facts, logic & proper maths !
.. All we want is emotion/passion/ & "think of the chhildren & cuddly animals"

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Does anyone else get the distinct impression that we have TWO (well - three, as we have to include Brussels) governments..?

We seem to be getting one message from George Osborne - tacit but non-specific support for 'indigenous' fuels (e.g. fracked gas) - and then the DECC's view of the world fronted by Mr PotatoEd, and with comments by their civil servants like the one being discussed.

Any chance of joined-up government, Mr Cameron..?

No - thought not...

Dec 5, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

..."since 2010 £29bn has been invested in UK renewables creating around 30,000 jobs - up and down supply chains and across the UK"

just as hundred of Technicians commute back and forth weekly from Denmark to East Midlands Robin Hood Airport to service UK North Sea offshore wind turbines.

Dec 5, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

He's obviously the sort of person with a deep understanding of what is needed to give us a secure, reliable and affordable supply of energy.

Sarcasm noted. I would say instead that he is a classic member of the Rhetoric Industries, whose sole job is to rebadge failure as 'justice' and make success look like 'cheating'.

Dec 5, 2013 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Perhaps he should be dismissed for gross incompetence?

Consumers pay twice. Once for overpriced power, and then for civil servants to extol its virtues.

Dec 5, 2013 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

When a senior public servant (as we call them in Oz) ceases to even pretend to impartiality, everyone knows that they can never be trusted again. What's more, they are finished in terms of being remembered as leading lights in their profession.

When I was in that world, one of the most important selection criteria for senior jobs came under the heading of "judgement." It meant, inter alia, keeping your head while all around are losing theirs, as a now unfashionable writer once said.

This kind of naked partisanship is, apart from anything else, a sign of incompetence and lack of professionalism.

Dec 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Each job comes with long term falling-cost renewable power generation and reduction in CO2 along with improved infrastructure...

The first is yet to be seen, but the indications are that wind is more expensive than previously thought, due to shorter equipment lives than initially anticipated (or "claimed" to be more honest), we have no evidence that the second provides any benefit, and the third is risable: if infrastructure is needed, it should be built directly, not as part of an over-priced scheme to deliver a poor-quality product. You're zero-for-three, Zed, and that only in one sentence.

Dec 5, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterdcardno

Radical Rodent - "Don't confuse me with the data, my mind is made up". It might sound like climate science, but a colleague frequently said it 40 years ago.

dcardno - It really is a strange delusion isn't it? Some Greenies (for want of better description) even deny (sorry) the deluded, optimistic figures provided by DECC.

We can see that the government are going to pay three times the price of the electricity for offshore turbines. It is of course predicated on the certainty that fossil fuel prices will rise. Of course they are going to try to tax gas (for example) to make it more expensive, so renewables will look not quite so expensive as they do. As many analysts have pointed out a falling prices for gas, which is not unlikely, would be a bit of a disaster for policy. It is one reason that DECC is so lukewarm on fracking - not the loony tunes stuff of protesters which even Ed Davey has said is wrong.

I see the Germans, who are not at all Green as we know /sarc off, are now considering the renewables being charged for the cost of the fossil fuel back-up. No sign that will happen here yet, but a year ago you wouldn't have thought it would occur to the German government either, but costs for consumers are spiralling upwards. It isn't only Miliband who wants make the investors pay.

Wind farms should be charged also for the infrastructure investments needed to hook them to the grid. Some expenditure is necessary anyway, but the bulk is not if you build coal/gas/nuclear. The true cost of wind is probably 5 times that of gas - some experts like Prof. Hughes assess that it is higher than that.

Oh yes and then you have to pay all over again in 25 years maximum (DECC business plan) to replace the turbines. Some of course have only been lasting 15 years.

Dec 5, 2013 at 5:12 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

Dang! Where did the rug go?

Dec 5, 2013 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

If Mr Cameron would give me just £750,000 I promise I will get three jobs created by Dec 5, 2100 and a billion pounds in savings for HM Treasury and if I break the promise he can come and pick me up on that day and do as he wishes to me, a 133-year-old.

Dec 5, 2013 at 5:27 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

I'm sure that the greens in the government and civil service are "driving economic growth" - but in which direction? Could our economic growth end up in the same place as all the global warming generated by the CO2 emissions of the past 17 years?

Dec 5, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

And the same place as our industrial and trading base (earning power) has gone in a single lifetime. But then our leaders are above all that sort of thing.

Plus ça change!

Dec 5, 2013 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Johanna (3:50 PM) hits a nail on the head. It is a sign of incompetence to be so partisan in his position. The facile alarmism involved seems to provide so many unimpressive people with a suite of phrases and attitudes that give them a peculiar confidence, and a peculiar lack of interest in rational appraisal of what and why they say what they say. I guess it just feels smart and trendy to them, but those who experience dismay at the sight and sound of their ill-informed arrogance, see nothing to admire. It is as if alarmists buy their clothes off-the-peg in some eccentric costumier's, and then preen and prance and preach as if they were in the height of fashion instead of in something utterly ludicrous.

Dec 5, 2013 at 6:07 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Anoneumouse: thanks for that link. Yesterday I fired off a stroppy email to a Scottish civil servant who was replying on behalf of an MP I’d emailed. I complained to the civil servant because he took such a partisan attitude, fully signed up to all the green mantras and dismissing all my reasoned sceptical arguments. It’s very annoying when you are paying their salaries. If he comes back to me I’ll quote your link to him.

Dec 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Brodie

John Shade and Johanna - absolutely bang on the money. Mind you John we obviously don't have the right toolkit do we? That's the problem.

If you see my recent comment on "unthreaded" - but please go to page 5 (at the moment) Dec, 3 at 1.40am

Jud an ex-pat in Ontario has a link to a radio programme in podcast/mp3 format. A long listen but well worth it. The delusion in the Liberal party in Ontario is astounding. There is even a politician who apart from accent could easily be Ed Davey - total disconnect with the real world.

Here is his comment in full to save finding the link from unthreaded - as I told Jud in my reply today, it almost cheered me up to know that politicians elsewhere (we already know about Oz Johanna) could be just as beyond reason and just lie.

Jud said -

On the week the Ontario Liberal government announced it's 'Long Term Energy Plan' Ottawa journalist Rob Snow tears it apart on his open line radio show today (Dec 2nd).
A must listen for anyone interested in the disaster that the 'Green Energy Act' has been for Ontario (population ~13 million)...

Rob's research on this has been meticulous and is second to none - and he's very entertaining to boot.

Dec 5, 2013 at 6:55 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

Normally, the clinically insane who insist on harming their fellow human beings are placed in secure mental hospitals under guard.

Now they are recruited by DECC to run energy policy.

Dec 5, 2013 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

"In all of this Government’s resolve is tested and the cost questioned."

What does that even mean? The last thing that greens ever do is "question" costs.

Dec 5, 2013 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

As another year of no warming draws to a close the possibility that natural cycles are overwhelm the supposed powers of ACO2 must have occurred to Lovegrove and his cohorts at DECC. They will therefore have Plan B in place to reverse all current energy policy and continue to show a much needed moral lead to the rest of the world.

It would be comforting to see their plans for recarbonisation by 2020, 2050 etc.

I'm sure, as charged with being prepared for looking after the nation's interests, Plan B will exist.

Just a peek Mr. Lovegrove?

Dec 5, 2013 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

One thing that puzzles me is the “new” metric of “climate change”. Which climate? My understanding of climate is that it is the general weather conditions of a local (though, usually, large) area. Thus, the climate of the India has a more stable, predictable weather pattern of monsoons – cool and dry for about half the year, hot and wet for the other half. However, to complicate things further, there are other climates within the general climate; also, it is not unknown for the monsoons to fail for no known reason, at the time, so it is already known that even a usually-predictable, stable climate can be unstable.

The climate of the UK is more complex, as it is predominantly seasonal, but has long been known to be rather unpredictable – the long, hot summer of 1976 had snowfall in June. Is the climate of Britain changing? Who can tell? It has been so variable throughout history, the best we can say is: “Well, it is winter, so it will probably be cold.” (Actually, that is probably the most reliable comment we could make; to say, “It’s summer, so should be warm,” is not quite as reliable.)

So, which climate is changing? The world climate? Is there a world climate? I can accept the idea of “global warming”, as that is a metric based upon something measurable – temperature. The idea that there is a global average of temperature is realistic; it allows that there could be some areas with larger differences, larger rises or even falls of local temperatures while the average rises, but how can global climate be defined? Indeed, the way we define the “climate change” of the Little Ice Age is by temperatures, so it would appear that the ONLY way to indicate “climate change” is by referring to changes in the average temperature; perhaps we should be more honest, and stop this rather insubstantial label of “climate change”, as we do not have climatometers, only thermometers. Whenever anyone rambles off about climate change, merely ask them what they mean by that phrase; how can they define it, and how can they measure it (“Pull!”); there is little doubt that they will immediately fall back on rising temperatures (Bang! Bang! These ducks are so big, how can you miss!)

Dec 5, 2013 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Is life insurance included in the renewables subsidies we pay?

Dec 5, 2013 at 10:07 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

More hand-wringing. What about some direct action?

I have just made a (another) complaint to the Commissioner for Standards.
So far I am 1 for 2 in terms of success, but can't say anything just yet (contempt of Parliament if I do)

I'm hoping this latest complaint will cause real shockwaves. On the other hand, what I allege is so damning, I suspect it will be ignored at all costs.

Nevertherless my advice is keep watching everything the corrupt say and do and if it contravenes the most piffling rule, complain.

Maybe Andrew can put up a "hit-list" of selected corrupt MPs and Lords- we could then crowdsource them?

Dec 5, 2013 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

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