But then the Chancellor, George Osborne, started making statements that Britain would not lead on CO2 cuts, and schemes like the feed-in tariff for renewables started seeing rapid (sometimes illegal) cuts.It seemed like we were back to square one, with the political establishment returning to the old model of energy- and resource-intensive growth created largely by throwing more fossil fuels at the problem. (For anyone who caught the US presidential debate the other night, that's an approach that will seem remarkably familiar.)
But there's a difference. The new industries finally have some muscle, and increasingly they have demonstrable projects and track records they can point to as evidence of their potential.
That's why it's significant that, a day after it was revealed that George Osborne has picked up the phrase "environmental taliban" from some of his colleagues, over 200 representatives of low carbon industries decided to march on Parliament - as reported on by Business Green:
Deborah Meaden, of TV show Dragon's Den, today joined around 250 representatives from renewable energy companies, trade associations, environment and development charities, the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI), and faith groups, to protest in Whitehall.
The groups, led by the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, also handed a joint letter, signed by 55 signatories, calling on the Prime Minister and Deputy Nick Clegg, to include a target in the forthcoming Energy Bill that would aim to decarbonise the power sector by 2030. The letter also urges the government to include emissions from shipping and aviation in the targets set under the Climate Change Act, as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.
Now granted, some of the claims made by renewables advocates should be examined carefully, and there are significant challenges in shifting to a truly low carbon economy. But the idea that we should allow those challenges to curtail our efforts, or that there is any future in sticking to an insanely wasteful, highly damaging and deeply inefficient economic model is nothing more than a dangerous fantasy—a fantasy far more radical and unsettling than anything the "Environmental Taliban" has to offer.
And no amount of name calling or accusations of extremism will change that.