WSJ: ‘Warming to protectionism’

March 5, 2009

Editorializing about the EU’s new tariff on biodiesel imports from the U.S, the Wall Steet Journal noted that,

Just as more scientists acknowledge that we don’t know as much about the Earth’s climate as Al Gore says, it’s becoming clearer that environmental policies won’t lead to some green economic boom…

… Neither side is in the right here — which makes the case such a good illustration of the way green policies warp markets.

… If EU environmental policies were really about the environment, [U.S. biodiesel] arguably would be a good thing. More green fuel for everyone, and on the cheap to boot…

It turns out that Europe — which also isn’t known for restraint in supporting farmers — is more interested in protecting its own biodiesel industry than in seeing motorists fill their tanks with low-carbon fuel… And all of this despite evidence that fuels like biodiesel increase CO2 emissions compared with fossil fuels…

We keep hearing about the coming “green tech” bounty. But green-collar jobs will continue to cost more in subsidies and lost efficiency than the jobs themselves are worth. Not to mention the positions that are lost along the way in other firms or industries, or never created because energy costs more for everyone. A report last year by the economic research institute RWI Essen found that €205,000 in subsidies were spent for each solar-industry job created in Germany, and that the net effect on employment was negative…

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