When we hear of job losses from the carbon tax, often we’re talking about jobs that don’t exist yet.
The issue of how we tackle climate change has become one of the most contentious debates in Australia, and around the world. Often job losses are quoted as a consequence of a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. For example, in 2009 Concept Economics produced a report, commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia, claiming an ETS would result in 23,510 fewer jobs in Australian mining than would otherwise be the case. That’s not the same as job losses, of course. It’s just 23,510 jobs in that sector that would not be created. Instead, most of those people will work in other industries.
Bruce Chapman, Director of Policy Impact at the Crawford School of Economics & Government at the Australian National University, discusses the impacts in his paper How many jobs is 23,510 really?
He explains how the surprising fluidity of labour movement has a big part to play in these discussions.
It’s a simple concept that’s worth grasping if you are to understand any reports claiming job losses. Any report from a group with a vested interest is worth a second look.