Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the 12th annual BusinessGreen Leaders Awards.
More coveted than a Network Rail pay deal.
More credible than a Number 10 spokesperson denying the latest political scandal.
More sustainable than a vegan cookbook written by Greta Thunberg.
For over a decade, the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards have been the biggest and most prestigious celebration of the very best of the UK’s green economy.
As such, this is a party that genuinely is a work event.
And these awards are more competitive than ever.
This year we had over 300 entries, the vast majority of which were a hugely impressive testament to the breadth of talent and depth of commitment found right across the green economy.
If you were shortlisted for these awards, you really have beaten scores of other entries and have much to be rightly proud of.
I say this, because if by the end of the evening you are not among the winners or highly commended entries… just… be cool.
I will be mercifully brief, as this evening we have not one, not two, but three opening speakers.
Plus we’re striving to finish this evening’s ceremony by 10pm so we can make it home before we all either turn into pumpkins or the train’s stop running, whichever comes first.
Next year we’ll try not to coincide the awards with massive industrial action, although let’s be honest, given the way things are going there’s no guarantees that’ll be possible.
However, I did want to briefly reflect on what a remarkable year it has been, and how integral you and your peers around the world have been in both driving progress and protecting the climate movement from the most appalling headwinds.
You have continued technologies to drive down emissions, to accelerate the roll out of clean, to make electric vehicles and renewables and heat pumps not just the green choice, but the smart and attractive choice.
You have helped build public support for the green industrial revolution, delivered countless clean tech innovations, and provided the foundations that meant world leaders could come together at COP26 in Glasgow and build on their commitment to deliver a net zero global economy inside a few short decades .
You have done all this while vested and cynical interests seek to exploit the most horrendous of circumstances to try and lock the world in to another era of pollution and petrostate dominance.
We were told ‘yes, you have had to deal with the climate crisis and the housing crisis and the financial crisis, but at least you don’t have to cope with runaway inflation, rolling strikes, and Russian threats of nuclear apocalypse’.
Now we have to tackle all of these threats and more.
But in the face of these era-defining challenges, you have demonstrated not just resilience, but an ability to see the big picture, to navigate complexity, to map out a route forward that could not just defuse the climate bomb but build a better, Healthier, and fairer economy for all.
I was struck the other day by UN General Secretary Antonio Gutteres description of the clean energy transition as a ‘peace plan for the 21st century’. That is what we are working on.
It is one of the defining projects of human civilisation – that thing that started, as the anthropologist Margaret Mead observed, with a broken femur that had healed. A skeleton that proved another person had taken time to stay with the injured and tend them back to health.
That is still the mission.
The understanding that even in times of trouble and trauma it is in all our interests to help one another.
So, as ever, thank you.
Thank you to our sponsors for their support of these awards.
Thank you to our judges for taking the time to read so many exceptional entries.
Thank you for making the effort to join us this evening – we hope to make it worth missing Love Island for.
But most of all, thank you for all the work that you do. It deserves to be celebrated.