You can say what you like about David Cameron, and plenty of people will over the next few years, but he does not want for ambition.
His move, as one of the first pieces of business for the new coalition, to commit central government departments to a 10 per cent cut in carbon emissions over the next 12 months is both bold and admirable. It promises to reinvigorate Whitehall's efforts to improve energy efficiency and demonstrates that Cameron was deadly serious when he said he wanted his government to be the "greenest ever".
It also provides yet another ringing endorsement to the ground-breaking 10:10 campaign, which has proven so effective at keeping the need to cut carbon emissions in the headlines during the inevitable post-Copenhagen lull.
However, while Cameron's ambition is to be admired, there have to be some question marks over his ability to deliver on such a bold target, particularly given the grievous state of the public finances.
As the 10:10 campaign has demonstrated, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent inside a year is not actually that difficult. Simply reducing heating levels by one degree, turning off unused electrical equipment and giving an overhaul to your boiler and air conditioning units will get you pretty close to the target. Numerous households and offices, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change, have found that emission cuts of around 10 per cent can be achieved quickly and relatively easily.
However, meeting emission targets requires genuine focus and savvy management - something Whitehall has proved consistently incapable of delivering during the years that it repeatedly missed Labour's public sector emission targets.
It also requires investment. The sums involved are not huge in the grand scheme of things and most energy efficiency spending pays for itself within two or three years, but some refurbishment of heating and cooling units, automation of lighting and IT systems, and employee education programmes will typically be required if an office is to shave 10 per cent off its energy use.
The big question is whether George Osborne is willing to authorise these relatively small investments in an emergency budget that will be dominated by cuts in government spending. Of course, he may make it easier for Whitehall to meet its carbon target by laying off hordes of civil servants, but I'm not sure redundancy-induced carbon savings are what people are supposed to have in mind when setting emission targets.
It is worth noting that when the last government voted earlier this year against proposals supported by the Lib Dems and Conservatives that parliament and central government departments sign up to the 10:10 campaign it was not because it did not want to deliver cuts in emissions - it was because it feared such a demanding target would prove a glaring elephant trap that Whitehall would almost inevitably stumble into in a year's time.
It is also worth noting that, while he may not be aware of it, David Cameron is not the first politician to hail the "greenest government" in history. Back in 1998, then environment secretary Michael Meacher looked back on the first year of Labour's term in office and praised the "greenest government ever in this country", before urging the party to redouble its efforts and maintain the momentum that had delivered a raft of new regulations designed to clamp down on polluters.
The rest, as they say, is history. Labour's environmental policy drifted for the best part of a decade until the creation of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the appointment of Ed Miliband as its Secretary of State provided one of the few bright spots of the Party's last two years in office.
None of this is intended to rain on Cameron's parade, nor question the sincerity of his pledge to deliver both deep cuts in carbon emissions and the greenest government yet.
It is just that we have been here before, and repeatedly seen demanding targets defeated by a combination political cowardice, corporate vested interests and civil service incompetence.
The 10 per cent target is entirely achievable and it is right and proper that it has been set. This is precisely the kind of ambitious thinking that is required if the UK is to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy, and it marks a welcome break from the caution that undermined much of the good work done by DECC in the past two years.
But the coalition government must be under no illusions - the target will only be reached if it provides the necessary investment in energy efficiency and the hard-nosed managerial clout required to coerce and bully civil servants into delivering. My feeling is that both Cameron and his new energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne know this. The question is whether chancellor George Osborne is similarly enlightened - hopefully we will find out soon.
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