Everyone knows bad news is more compelling than good, particularly when an election is imminent and the political and media elite are cranking themselves up for the usual round of partisan warfare. But occasionally it is both personally therapeutic and commercially beneficial to focus on the good news, to, in the much-mocked words of David Cameron "let the sunshine in".
The past couple of weeks have certainly provided plenty of good news for the UK's increasingly influential green business sector. Released yesterday, the latest edition of Ernst & Young's Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index yesterday confirmed what the government and experts within the renewable energy industry have been saying for some time: the UK is finally on the up.
We may be a decade late compared to some countries, but the policy framework and investment climate for the UK's renewable energy sector is improving fast, as evidenced by our climbing two places in E&Y's league table to joint fifth.
Encouragingly, this improvement is also bearing dividends.
With the kind of electoral timing Gordon Brown can only wish various transport unions could master, Mitsubishi, GE and now Siemens have all recently announced multimillion pound investments in wind turbine manufacturing facilities, providing the government with much needed evidence that its increasingly interventionist low carbon industrial strategy is delivering. The wind energy sector said all it needed was confidence the next wave of offshore products would go ahead and a little help funding the necessary port infrastructure, and within less than a week of the government announcing a £60m investment in port upgrades GE and Siemens have committed to investing close on £200m in new manufacturing plants.
Add in Nissan and Ford's recent plans for new green car manufacturing plants and today's confirmation that RWE and E.ON plan to build a new nuclear power plant in Wales and there is a real sense that the UK's low carbon transition is finally gathering some serious momentum.
That momentum will be given a further boost on April 1 when both the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and the Feed in Tariffs come into effect.
There is plenty to be found within both these initiatives that can (and inevitably will) be spun as bad news. The CRC is horrendously complex, is unlikely to be enforced as robustly as required, and could well see some money transferred from the cash-strapped private sector into the coffers of private firms. Meanwhile, there are plenty of high profile commentators with reservations about the level of incentives available through the feed in tariff with George Monbiot arguing they are far too high and represent a "great green rip off" for bill payers and others insisting many of the tariffs are set to low and will fail to maximize the full potential of the small scale renewable sector.
But both these schemes will also provide a huge and timely boost to the profile of carbon cutting measures amongst businesses and the general public, forcing around 5,000 organisations to account for their energy use and carbon footprint each year while making solar panel and wind turbines an increasingly common feature of everyday life.
Meanwhile, the court ruling against the proposed expansion of Heathrow not only appears to put another nail in the coffin of the plans for a third runway, it also sets a hugely important precedent that should force all large infrastructure projects to more thoroughly consider the climate change impact of their development.
Globally, the picture is necessarily more mixed, but the low carbon direction of travel is equally evident. In the last week alone we've had news China has become the leading investor in clean tech, research suggesting global investment will rise 35 per cent this year, and reports that the solar PV industry enjoyed a record year during 2009.
As with all climate change issues, there are plenty of reasons to respond with a "yeah, but..." Regardless of the climategate tempest in a thimble the scientific warnings remain pretty terrifying and globally the pace of emission cuts needs to accelerate rapidly. The UN negotiations to agree a successor to Kyoto are stuck in a dangerous limbo, as evidenced by the failure last week of the International Maritime Organisation to make any real progress towards cutting emissions from shipping, while plans for a US climate bill continue to face vehement opposition. Peak oil, meanwhile, remains the economically apocalyptic, riot-inducing elephant in the room.
On the domestic front, a shortage of green skills threatens to put the brakes on the low carbon economy just as it begins to accelerate, while scepticism about the case for environmental action on the Conservative back benches has some green businesses nervous ahead of the upcoming election.
And yet bit by bit the evidence is mounting that the transition to a low carbon economy is genuinely underway and the case for cutting greenhouse gas emissions is now firmly entrenched in the corporate and political mainstream. Even the survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit that yesterday suggested some business leaders are sceptical about the case for low carbon products and services in a way represents great news for green firms who should now have even more breathing space before their competitors realise they are missing out on the low carbon opportunity.
There will inevitably be countless future chances to mull over the barriers and set backs that will continue to dog the development of green businesses, but as the UK's low carbon transition discernibly moves into a new phase this week it is perhaps the perfect opportunity to look on the bright side.
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