Catch the opening address from last night's BusinessGreen Leaders Awards
Once a year I get to give a speech. It is just a five to 10 minute effort to welcome everyone to the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards, reflect briefly on the past year, and engage in a little bit of tub-thumping for the green economy - President Obama at Georgetown University it categorically is not.
But in case you missed last night's awards, here are sentiments that kicked off the evening, excluding the few ad libbed parts and including some terribly lame jokes about the venue:
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the third annual BusinessGreen Leaders Awards - the largest and most prestigious green business awards in the UK.
And welcome to the Brewery. I'm not going to do the obvious joke, but if you are in the mood to celebrate, please feel free to organise yourselves.
Because there is much to celebrate this evening.
The theme of this year's awards is green growth, and, as all of the companies here tonight have proven, this sector is one of the main engines of long-term economic recovery and innovation.
It has been a year that has hammered home this message time and again.
We've seen the UK cut the ribbon on the world's largest offshore wind farm.
We've seen corporate giants from BT to Sainsbury's and IKEA to Apple unveil hugely ambitious new green business strategies.
And we've seen a solar-powered plane - a solar-powered plane of all things - fly across the United States.
Barely a century on from the first manned flight we have an aircraft that can fly through the night, using power from the sun.
On the political front, we've seen the government introduce the Green Investment Bank, launch the Green Deal, and it is about to deliver a landmark Energy Bill.
We've seen the opposition promise ambitious plans to decarbonise the UK's power sector and reform the energy market.
And we've seen the Prime Minister unequivocally state his desire to make Britain a "global showcase for green innovation and energy efficiency".
Although, he has to keep quiet about it, because it makes some of his backbenchers' eyes swivel.
At BusinessGreen, in our own way, we've mirrored some of this progress.
We've seen the launch of our new BusinessGreen Plus subscription service, which I urge you all to sign up to if you haven't done so already.
We've launched new roundtable and lead generation services for our clients.
And we've won our first award in recognition of the exclusives we continue to break and the daily news we continue to provide this most important of sectors.
Right across the green economy we've seen all this progress, all this optimism, all this innovation.
We've seen the green shoots of a New Environmentalism. A pragmatic and optimistic form of environmentalism. An environmentalism that acknowledges the challenges we face, but aggressively pursues the opportunities the green economy offers.
No wonder the climate contrarians and their supporters in the media are so angry all the time. It might not always seem like it - and as a journalist I despair at the cynicism that characterises so much reporting on these issues - but the misleading arguments and the dispiriting pessimism embodied by many critics of the green economy is losing ground.
Serious business leaders know these siren voices have to be ignored and they are doing just that.
Inevitably, it has not all been plain sailing for the green economy and no one wants to gloss over the considerable challenges we still face.
But tonight is not the night to lament the political set-backs, criticise the policy inconsistencies, and bemoan the baleful influence of those who wish to recklessly ignore environmental threats.
Because we know the direction of travel towards a greener and more sustainable way of doing business is the only route available.
We know the only rational response to credible warnings of environmental collapse - the only human response, the only commercially sensible response - is to redouble efforts to find solutions to these myriad challenges.
To those who say alternative sources of energy can never work, we say they are already working. We say we are not going to give up on developing alternative and sustainable sources of energy just because some people are not smart enough or responsible enough to try.
To those who say green technologies rely on subsidies, we say clean tech costs are falling all the time - and if you want to talk about subsidies let's talk about the subsidies handed to fossil fuels, and the covert subsidies that has for too long allowed damaging pollution to be moved off the balance sheet.
To those who say we don't have to worry about climate change, we say the warnings from every science academy in the world could not be clearer - we must act. To fail to do so represents the height of recklessness.
And we are acting.
You are acting.
If this evening's awards are about anything - anything beyond proving that BusinessGreen can organise the proverbial champagne drinks reception in a brewery.
If this evening's awards are about anything, they are about recognising those businesses, NGOs, and executives who are taking action - who are actively building a better and more sustainable economy.
They are also about saying a heartfelt thank you.
Thank you for your support of BusinessGreen.
Thank you for your continued work towards building a greener and more resilient economy.
And thank you for your entries to these awards.
At this point I must say the quality of the entries this year was remarkably high. Fewer than 100 organisations are shortlisted this evening, but we had well over 200 entries for these awards. They really are hugely competitive, and if it is in the nature of awards that some won't finish the evening victorious, I hope it is some consolation that only the leaders of the green economy made it to this stage.
While I'm thanking people I must also thank the rest of the team at BusinessGreen for delivering these awards and continuing to bring you the news and analysis each and every day that the green economy needs.
And of course, a big thank you to our sponsors, without whom this evening would not be possible.
So thank you to Ricoh,
to our charity partner WWF,
to PwC - who will also be hosting our next BusinessGreen Leaders Forum on October 15th,
and, of course, thank you to our headline sponsor URS.
As a journalist I like to tell stories, so I thought I'd end with a very quick story.
A quick story about beer.
It seemed appropriate, given the venue.
There's a brewery in my East Anglian hinterland called Adnams.
It was established in 1872, but like many firms with a strong connection to its local community it wants to be around in another 100 years.
So this business has looked closely at what it does well, what it does brilliantly, in brewing beer, and has worked out how to do it better.
It has developed a joint venture to deliver an anaerobic digestion plant and is now turning the waste by-products from the brewing process into biogas that it can feed into the grid and use to power its operations.
Its emissions are lower, its energy costs are more predictable, and it is now able to work with other local businesses to provide a sustainable use for food and agricultural waste.
As Plato said, it was a wise man who invented beer.
But it was an even wiser man who worked out how to turn the dregs into clean energy.
The reason I tell this story is not because Adnams are particularly special.
In virtually every industry, in every county in the UK and every country in the world, there are businesses like this.
Businesses that are embracing a more sustainable way of operating, investing in innovative clean technologies, re-connecting with their customers and communities.
Not because they have become tree-hugging campaigners.
But because they know the only way to prosper in the long term is to minimise environmental risks and embrace green opportunities.
Many of those businesses are here to tonight, and if I have one message for you it is for you to start telling your own stories.
Celebrate your successes.
Promote the green progress you are making.
Take every opportunity to emphasise the urgency of this moment.
Tell your customers, your colleagues, and your contemporaries that this is how you do business.
Because if you don't, you leave the stage free for those who wish to wreck the green agenda.
Those luddites and contrarians who want the public to think all businesses are polluting dinosaurs that would happily trash the planet for a quick buck, dodging their taxes as they go.
Those who are terrified of the industrial revolution you are leading, because it threatens their vested interests and their cynical ideology.
It is critical you present an alternative future - a positive future.
It is critical you tell your stories.
Stories of business success and environmental success - going hand-in-hand - each making the other stronger.
But before you rush off to tell those stories, please join me tonight in celebrating your success to date and raise a glass to a cleaner future and the BusinessGreen Leaders who will help us get there.
Enjoy your meal, enjoy the awards, enjoy our host for the evening, Charlie Baker.
And thanks again for your continued support."
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