Some days it is hard to think of topics harder to fathom than the logic behind the government's increasingly confused environmental policy. The theory of relativity in Esperanto perhaps, or maybe a three hour lecture on James Joyce's use of the semicolon.
Yesterday was one of those days.
It started with the Treasury Select Committee expressing its disappointment at the government's "timid" approach to green taxes and failure to deliver a joined up approach to climate change.
Much has already been written about the fact that this government has overseen a decrease in the proportion of revenue coming from green taxes at a time when the exact opposite was required. But it is worth noting again that a supposed centre left government has completely turned its back on a progressive means of taxation (low income groups emit less carbon) that provides the simplest means of correcting the market failures that have allowed individuals and businesses to pollute without consequence.
It is hard to overstate the extent to which the fuel protests of 2000 screwed up this government's thinking on the environment and it is a damning indictment of its meekness that eight years on there are still few signs it is willing to take tough decisions on green taxation. And this despite the growing number of businesses who accept they have a role to play.
A quick call to the Treasury prompted a government statement that is now so well worn most green business execs could write it themselves.
We have introduced green taxes such as the climate change and aggregates levy, said the Treasury, adding that these taxes had helped ensure the UK will emerge as one of the few countries that will meet its Kyoto targets. Well, yes they had, but almost certainly not as much as the shift in the UK's energy mix from coal to gas that countless independent observers have identified as the primary cause of the UK's relatively impressive emissions performance.
Moreover, referencing a couple of new green taxes does nothing to counter Committee chairman John McFall's conclusion that these taxes are "minuscule in the grand scheme of things".
Of course, there was some optimism to be gained in the Treasury Committee's report. Most noticeably in the fact that a cross party committee of MPs is reaching these (admittedly blindingly obviously) conclusions. The call for the appointment of a climate change minister is also a welcome idea that many green business execs would support. Although it is worth noting that the only way a dedicated climate change minister would help deliver the cross-departmental joined-up thinking that is so desperately required is if the new minister is given real authority pretty much on a par with the four great offices of state.
A junior minister knocking meekly on the door of the Treasury or Home Office asking for more action on climate change would be at best an outrider for the environment minister and at worst a glorified fig leaf for the government's decidedly ropey environmental record.
The day then took a more optimistic turn when I met with Adam Bruce, UK CEO of Airtricity and chair of the BWEA, to record BusinessGreen's EcoEntrepreneur Podcast, which should be up online next week.
Adam had just hot-footed it over from Downing Street, where he been meeting one of the prime ministers top energy advisors, and was set to spend the afternoon back in Whitehall meeting officials at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). Rather than despairing at the prospect of a day in the company of mandarins who have in the past been less than supportive of the renewables sector he was surprisingly upbeat.
According to Bruce there has been a detectable shift in the government's attitude to climate change in the last six months and there is finally a genuine appetite to get things done. This is particularly apparent at BERR, where Bruce reckons the word has come down from the "impressive" and "lucid" minister John Hutton that targets must be hit and the renewables industry supported. If true it is a remarkable turn around for a department that only a few short months ago was reportedly investigating ways to wriggle out of the UK's renewable energy targets.
Bruce's confidence is also good news for all other businesses with a green agenda, because if Ministers are finally leaning on civil servants to treat the EU's carbon targets as priorities then it is inevitable that the support, incentives and regulations required to assist firms' carbon cutting initiatives will materialise.
Or so I thought for the five minutes before I returned to my desk to find that Defra is apparently in the throes of crisis meetings to identify £1bn of budget cuts for the next three years.
Defra is insistent no decisions have yet been made, but the scale of the cuts are little short of a "disaster" and it is inevitable business support functions will be impacted.
What we do know is that 31 people have already been made redundant by WRAP, the main agency for promoting recycling, and the organisation is developing a new plan to refocus its priorities, which is PR speak for ditch some of its activities.
Defra appears to be trying to protect its climate change activities from the axe, mindful of how any big cuts would undermine the government's rhetoric. In fact, flood defences have been earmarked more money. But this only means conservation agencies and waste management activities are firmly in the firing line. Meanwhile, sources are convinced a number of smaller funds designed to support many non-government organisations, including plenty that provide business advisory services, are facing the chop.
It is a genuine travesty and regardless of how the government tries to spin it there is no way a budget shortfall of £300m a year will not jeopardise the UK's climate change efforts.
Moreover, it is just the latest in a series of incidents that characterises a government appears increasingly torn between taking the measures needed to drive the low carbon economy and sticking with the budget allocations, tax policies, and ministerial structures that will make such a transition nigh on impossible.
On days like yesterday it is hard to get away from the impression that the government's climate change policy really is a back of an envelope stream of consciousness job of which James Joyce would be proud.
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