Mr Hester Takes a Haircut

After a great deal of pressure on Mr Hester and the board of RBS to avoid taking or paying a bonus of just under a million pounds (a bargain) Mr Hester has caved in to the pressure and agreed to forgo the bonus.
I find it odd that Mr Hester should have been awarded a contract under which bonuses are payable in terms where he gets a substantial bonus (a) before he has succeeded in returning RBS into private ownership thereby finishing the task that he undertook when he was appointed and (b) he gets a substantial bonus when the bank he runs is still making heavy losses and where its share price has reduced since he was last awarded the bonus.

It strikes me as an odd contract for the government of the day (it was the last government) to have awarded. Mr Hester is supposed to be a talented manager,   and if he is he is entitled to a good salary (his present salary of £1.2 million strikes me as a little over the top) but the bonus terms seem to me to be no more than salary disguised as a bonus.

It is quite right that Mr Hester has taken a haircut, and perhaps there should be more haircuts taken by city gents of this ilk.

Would you notice climate change?

In the past thirty years the average surface temperature of the earth has increased by about 0.6⁰ Celsius, according to a number of measurements by highly respected institutions operating in many different countries. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes collates almost all of the scientifically established data and agrees that this temperature rise has occurred. According to Wikipedia no known body of national or international standing disagrees. It is (and here I write with typical lawyerly caution) pretty certain that it has got warmer in the past thirty years. You may not have noticed it, for a number of reasons:- Continue reading

Society and Government

Thomas Paine thought that society a product of our wants and needs whereas government is necessitated by our wickedness. Society, he wrote, unites our affections and government restrains our vices.  Continue reading

Solar Thermal systems and Heat Dumps

Chris Flaherty is Genersys’s technical expert who has travelled the world supervising and advising on the installation of Genersys thermal solar panels. As a result he has seen many alternative ways of heating water and many different types of panels. With the Renewable Heat Incentive gaining momentum there will be installers who are not familiar with some of the techniques and intricacies of thermal solar (or solar water heating) and may well have gaps in the knowledge which the qualification courses they have been on have not covered. We will aim to fill in some of the gaps and one of the issues is heat dumps. Continue reading

Achieving Zero

Brenda Boardman is at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. I have always found that she has interesting things to say about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. She has now written a report “Achieving Zero” which you can read in full at or in summary at which sets out some findings and ideas about reducing greenhouse egas emissions from buildings. This is a difficult problem in the United Kingdom where there are more than 26 million buildings the vast majority of which were built to designs and specifications when green house gas emissions and fuel costs were not a concern. Continue reading

Tree Hugging

Timber is big business. In all places in the world where trees grow humanity has cropped the trees for fuel, for shelter for furniture and for the luxuries of life. When humanity was species that was few in number tree cutting had little effect, although some think that many of the great deserts of the world have been created or expanded by whole tree cutting. In my lifetime the extent of trees has shrunk on the map of the world, particularly in the Amazon basin and in equatorial Africa. Continue reading

Feed In Tariff Subsidies

The court has ruled against the government on the solar subsidies for feed in tariffs under the scheme for electric production by photovoltaic panels. Under the ruling the photovoltaic industry has a respite, rather than a reprieve. The ridiculously high subsidy of 43 p per kWh will now remain in place until March, and if you have your PV system installed after the end of March I think you will “only” get 23p per kWh as a subsidy. Continue reading

Sometimes it is difficult

Sometimes it is hard to find the time that I need to write a daily blog. Either there are not enough hours in the day or more likely I find it hard to manage my time efficiently. The more things that you have to do (or that you feel you have to do) the less time you have for reflection and a great advantage of my daily blog is that while I am writing it I have time for reflection.  Continue reading

Freedom of Speech

I am shocked and appalled that it is now an offence in the United Kingdom to distribute pamphlets entitled “Death penalty?” suggesting that homosexuality should be criminalised (perhaps I should say re-criminalised) and that homosexuals should be subject to the death penalty or some other punishment. There is a strong tradition of pamphleteering in this country and prosecuting pamphleteers was a field sport that I thought had become obsolete, but for governments anxious to control the moral behaviour of the governed old habits die hard . Continue reading

Secret Subsidies

I am pleased that environmentalists have complained to the European Commission that the United Kingdom is in effect secretly subsidising nuclear energy. The complainants argue (in my view rightly) that laws that cap liability for nuclear accidents or do not require the nuclear energy producers to clean up after they have made their money from nuclear electricity and a host of other subsidies are contrary to the EU laws which require these subsidies to have been granted state approval before they are implemented. Continue reading