The worst thing about taking two steps forward and one step back is that the frustration at your stilted progress makes it so easy to forget that you are actually moving forward.
So it is currently for all those in the green business movement - progress is undoubtedly being made and at a pace that would have been unimaginable just 18 months ago. And yet as each new scientific report on climate change makes more horrifying reading than the last you can't help but feel it needs to move much faster still.
This dichotomy was highlighted to me this year at a conference where the keynotes were delivered by the contrasting figures of Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum and former head of the British Antarctic Survey, who gave a chilling update on the scale of the climate change threat, and Bob Hertzberg, the ebullient boss of solar firm G24i who argued that the low carbon economy could prove to be just around the corner.
The temptation to be disheartened is always there, but as the end of the year draws closer it is worth remembering that there are convincing signs that despite the gloomy economic backdrop Hertzberg might just be right.
One question that was never asked amidst all the recent reports of the UK and EU emission reduction targets was whether we could actually exceed them.
At first glance the answer appears to be such a resounding no that the question is simply not worth asking. These targets have never been met in the past, emissions are still rising and no nation on Earth is yet to convincingly detach economic growth and carbon emissions.
But perhaps it is not so daft to ask after all, particularly if you think about how fast economies and technologies can change.
I (and everyone I know) have iPods and mobile phones and computers stuffed in pockets and bags that were simply unimaginable to most people just a decade ago.
Technologies can go mainstream very, very quickly - all they have to do is serve a need and be better than the version they are replacing.
And that is why it is not entirely inconceivable that Europe could cut emissions by more than 20 per cent by 2020 and get more than a fifth of its energy from renewable sources. Because increasingly green technologies are getting ever close to performance and cost parity with their more carbon intensive counterparts.
All those start ups and multinationals that started investing in developing low carbon technologies five or six years ago are now seeing those projects accelerate or come to fruition and action plans such as the EU's mean they know they have a market for their end products.
This is not to suggest that tackling climate change would suddenly become easy, but rather than being daunted by the challenge it is worth remembering that all we need is a number of energy and transport technologies that are cheaper and better than the technologies they are looking to replace (and scientists are convinced solar can compete with the grid within a few years, while 100mph electric sports cars are already a reality) and the market will do the rest.
And that is as upbeat a place as any to finish the year.
BusinessGreen.com's blog is taking a few week's off for Christmas from today, but we'll be back again in the New Year.
Happy Holidays to all our readers, and thanks for your continued support during 2008.
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