First the good news: the green section of the pre-budget report or budget has now become so normalised it is as much a part of budget days as the jeering response from the opposition benches.
The pledge to support the "industries of the future" and the name-checking of Kyoto, Copenhagen, and carbon budgets has now featured in pretty much every budget of the last few years - and if anything environmental issues become more significant each time the Chancellor rises to the dispatch box.
Tax hikes, bonuses and bingo may have dominated the headlines, but Alistair Darling gave a surprisingly sizable chunk of his Pre-Budget Report speech over to the environment. The UK's car crash public finances meant there was never going to be a game-changing display of generosity from the Treasury, but there was still plenty for low carbon businesses to celebrate.
The government underlined its commitment to the carbon capture and storage sector, and also reassured investors in offshore wind that current levels of subsidy will be retained until at least 2014. Meanwhile, the microgeneration sector may have to wait until the New Year to see whether it should be celebrating or commiserating over the level feed in tariffs are set at, but it must have been encouraged to hear the Chancellor say income generated by households using the scheme will be tax free.
Firms providing energy efficient products and services will also be happy that changes to the climate change levy will drive up energy bills for many firms, while the electric vehicle sector was delighted that two of its highest priority markets, delivery vans and company cars, will enjoy tax exemptions for five years.
Somewhat surprisingly, there was money too. Not earth-shattering sums, admittedly but not to be sniffed at either. An additional £150m was found for low-carbon investment, with a further £200m also made available for green home improvements, primarily in the form of improved insulation and a new boiler scrappage scheme.
There will be understandable nerves amongst green business leaders that the unspecified cuts in services that will inevitably follow the election will impact low carbon industries, but on the whole there was plenty to pleased about in the PBR.
And yet, listening to Darling you get the impression these new green commitments came a little too easily. There was not a peep from the opposition benches during the environmental part of his speech, because there was nothing there that was in the least bit revolutionary or innovative. Every change that was made constitutes tinkering round the edges, when, as every green business leader you speak to will tell you, what is needed is a comprehensive re-engineering.
Nowhere is this more noticeable than with green taxes. As the Sun front page memorably put it, Darling screwed more people than Tiger Woods on Wednesday with his increase in National Insurance, but there are other ways to raise revenue besides taxing income.
Darling obviously understands the appeal of green taxes as on Wednesday he did announce changes to company car tax bands designed to make polluting vehicles more costly and greener vehicles cheaper. But why not make the same changes for all vehicles? There can only be one explanation: cowardice.
Even in its dog days the government remains terrified of Sun or Mail front pages accusing it of attacking motorists and incapable of making the case that the majority of drivers would benefit from changes to road tax bands that further reward those driving the greenest vehicles.
Equally, where is the VAT cut on green goods and services that was being touted a year ago? It could be paid for with higher rates of tax on non-green products, but again it seems easier for the Treasury to shelve the idea than display some genuinely progressive thinking. Excuses about the need to stay within EU guidelines on VAT do not wash, if the government really wanted to cut tax on green products it would find a way to do it.
More worrying still is the fact that even the ideas that would attract no controversy cannot gain traction. From right across the political spectrum there are calls for the government to either set up a green infrastructure bank or lean heavily on the banks it, sorry we, own to increase lending to low carbon projects. And yet the Treasury chooses to sit on its hands, failing even to offer a coherent reason why it will not support a green bank.
Equally, why make income from microgeneration technologies tax free for households, but not for the businesses that have the potential to really drive the onsite generation market?
With an election on the horizon and the nation's books looking like the Treasury has drafted in a crack team of accountants from Enron you can perhaps understand the Chancellor's caution. But if the government truly believes its own assessment that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face and that the transition to a low carbon economy is essential, then it has a duty to display a little more fiscal boldness. Who knows, explain it properly and ensure all tax hikes are balanced with an explicit reward elsewhere and the public may even respect them for it.
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