Did it have to be this hard?

No, we’re not talking about sticking with a prime minister for more than five minutes. We’re talking about Australia responding to climate change.

After years of arguing, false policy starts and political leaders losing their jobs over climate legislation, Australia in 2013 has a relatively comprehensive policy in place and an emerging clean economy that will get much bigger.

For three weeks, The Power Index has been counting down the top 25 people driving this low-carbon economy. Today we bring you the No. 1: the bureaucratic troika that shepherded in our climate policy.

The list shows how uncertain this area is. Policy is up in the air; jobs are on the line. This list is written in pencil; we might be writing a fresh version come September 14.

The list also shows how much the clean economy is a product of the government, via legislators, regulators and bureaucrats. Has the business world failed to show leadership on climate change? We’ve heard plenty of complaining from business leaders; where are the bold ones who are proposing and trialling bold solutions?

One of the world’s top climate lawyers Martijn Wilder (and No. 5 on our list), when asked who holds the power in Australia’s low-carbon economy, said: “I think the powerful forces are on the dark side.” Wilder reckons the people who really work together on climate change are climate sceptics and industry figures.

But for every Alan Jones with his own personal climate statistics, there’s someone else who’s taking a punt on an important, uncertain and high-risk policy area. So read on (and be aware Jones did not make our list) …