Saturday, 25 June 2022

from Tarsam

I’m so glad we’re on the same page regarding Ukraine.  I agree with everything you said. I see it as a conflict between two imperialist aggressors – Russia and NATO which is basically a vehicle for US hegemony, using Ukraine as a proxy almost, and fear that of all the actors Ukrainians will come off worse in the end.

Letter from Sandeep and my rebuttal

Dear Sandeep,

It was great to see your letter written to Cllr Angus Lees that has been shown to me.  However, I do want to reply to give you a different point of view that I do hope you will consider.

Thank you for getting in touch following the Future Council Scrutiny Meeting on 16th March and the representations made in relation to the Embankment tram stop on the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Extension.

It is not just about the Merry Hill tram stop but about the full 400 metre long, climate busting, greenhouse gas spewing, concrete and steel, double-track, standard gauge, tram viaduct.  Plus the two bridges over Dudley's premier No 1 Canal and the mighty flyover on top of the roundabout at Level Street.  I think with high inflation and still fast-rising energy prices, all this will cost £100 million when completed.  £100 m when people are suffering quickly rising prices for everything and the most impoverished must be given more financial help and NOT a Metro tram, as one former LibDem Dudley councillor wants, in order to relieve poverty (email to me last week)!

As you will be aware, this project remains a key priority for significantly improving connectivity to Dudley and the wider Black Country. So why is it taking your TfWM 40 years to deliver this so good intention that has never come about?  If you really wanted Dudley to have improved connectivity, both the council and TfWM would have built the 1990s Merry Hill monorail so that it actually linked with the Black Country Railway "of national strategic significance" at the Waterfront.
And, AT THAT TIME, finished it by reinstating the trains and stations on our middle section without them, between Worcester and Derby.  There has been significant public engagement throughout the design and approvals process, in conjunction with Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. There was forty years of hither and thither, of public inquiries with the public not at all engaged or interested.  As part of this, a number of options were examined and assessed in terms of costs and benefits. Really?  But never for freight or for commuter and regional trains to finish a ready-built, principal, mainline railway instead of light rail, "bus on rails" trams. AND, on a line that previously had national trains for 100 years!!  We are now at a stage where the detailed design has been completed and enabling works are already taking place along sections of the route.  Yes, but nowhere near Merry Hill where there has only ever been investigative, ground survey work, as is being done today.  The nearest enabling works to Merry Hill are in Flood Street, 3.5 Kms from Level Street.  There are many millions being spent on strengthening Parkhead Viaduct, Netherton, I know that is nearer to Level Street.  That work is needed, although Parkhead is the same age as Stambermill Viaduct which sees freight trains most days.  Should Stambermill be undergoing the same strengthening work?  Whilst appreciating the concerns raised, the provision of a significant elevated structure in this location does present a number of challenges given the topography.  This includes further structures (more high cost/GHG emissions) to access the elevated stop making it less accessible and the negative environmental impact due to the visual intrusion.  But the Canal and River Trust (CRT) is not at all bothered about the "negative environmental impact due to the visual intrusion". The CRT is also responsible for this financial and transport scandal because the Trust is in full agreement with this foolish plan.  The provision of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Extension will bring environmental benefits through the provision of a zero emissions at source transport offer what about offering us zero emission at source electric buses at one-tenth of the cost of one "bus on rails" tram, as the national tram promotion group at Transport HQ has called it?  This was on 9th November 2016 when a Croydon tram crashed, killing seven passengers and injuring 61, 19 seriously. that will encourage car trips off the road network by providing significantly enhanced connectivity to a number of Local and Town Centres along the route. But modal shift has not been seen since the opening in 1999 of Metro One on another mainline railway between Snow Hill and St Georges Sq in Wolverhampton.  Over the last fifty years, your colleagues, Sandeep, have destroyed about 100 Kms of our regional railway lines by thinking that everything but the kitchen sink should be run on them.  Seven of Dudley's railway lines have now been wiped off the face of the map with the seventh (the most important and, supposedly safeguarded, national railway) being turned into the BCIMO HQ and test track where Dudley railway station stood for about 100 years.  And, in the Black Country and Brum, there are still 106 Kms with some freight trains but no commuter/regional trains!  We will also be working with our colleagues within the WMCA to bring forward any opportunities to enhance the natural capital as part of the delivery of the scheme.  My own landscape enhancement scheme gets smothered, indeed obliterated along with the natural capital that is the canal embankment of trees, shrubs and wildlife.  Called Nature.  Of which we humans are part.  So we obliterate ourselves.  Not very clever!

SUMMARY
I am asking for all party, urgent action to stop this ecocidal and immoral expenditure.  PLEASE, KEEP THE TRAM RUNNING DOWN THE MAINLINE RAILWAY to Stourbridge Junction.  The goods trains to Tata Steel only use one track.  Use the other for Metro between Canal Street tram stop and Stourbridge Jct station.  Put in tram stops at Waterfront (electric buses into Merry Hill), Brierley Hill and Withymoor.

Best wishes

Tim

Friday, 24 June 2022

My question at Mike Lynch's request

Thanks for this. My question submitted:-

Why are you all, after 70 years, still complacent, apathetic and colluding with the authorities and the bosses over the destruction of track bed that I'm sure Beeching must never have intended?

Why has there never been any industrial action over this matter in 70 years?

Never any support for my efforts since the 1990s? I AM NOT IMPRESSED WITH ANY OF YOU, DEAR MIKE LYNCH!

Notes from our meeting this morning

It was really great to meet you, Rob and to hear all you had to say.

My own important points for our excellent Climate Change Cabinet member are these:

  • Such is our total dependency on finite fossil fuels for every aspect of our lives: the more we spend the more greenhouse gases are emitted.
  • Therefore, Andy Street's £15 billion (Jan 2020 figure) for 8 lines, 150 miles, 380 tram stops by 2040 is completely the WRONG thing to do.
  • For example, the steel for the 150 miles of tracks, alone is ruinous!
  • Michael Portillo on 'Great Coastal Railway Journeys' (filmed last year) said that for every one ton of steel produced, 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide are emitted.  Some of that steel comes up on one track of our Black Country Railway to Tata Steel.
  • Concrete for the viaducts and tram stops is also very high in greenhouse gas emissions from the cement manufacture.
  • Andy's (and I voted for him in 2017 and 2021 and much like the man) multi-modal transport means more of everything - heavy rail, light rail, very light rail and ultra light rail (Stourbridge Shuttle); Sprint buses ((the bus that thinks its a tram), Platinum buses, hydrogen buses.
  • For me, this means a mighty mix-up mish-mash of many modes that cause more delays and changes to discourage modal shift from cars to public transport.  Metro Westside is an example of trams now permanently blocking fast bus travel through Five Ways underpass and only some buses can use Broad Street, entwining with the trams.
BACKGROUND

All our politicians, transport experts, trade unions, train enthusiasts were responsible for the entire tram network wiped off the face of the map in the 1950s to be replaced by diesel buses.

The lot of them are wholly responsible for wiping out one third or more of our railway network in the W Mids in the decades following the 50s disaster.

The 60s also saw the demolition of New St Victorian station and the new concrete monstrosity meant the polluting trains went underground.  Utter idiocy!

The 70s saw the demolition of Snow Hill Victorian station and its immediate replacement with more concrete and only four platforms from the previous eight.

The 80s saw the start of Midland Metro from the W Mids County Council and elected councillor, Phil Bateman that was to be the silver bullet to all our road congestion problems.

The 90s saw the opening of the first tramline on a perfectly good mainline railway out to Wolverhampton Low Level Station and Shrewsbury.  Except, the trams destroyed 3 or 4 Kms of track and the station!

The second tramline was to be opened by the year 2000, according to Dudley leader, Cllr Fred Hunt in the mid-90s in a chat with me.  This was on an even more important mainline railway from Worcester, Dudley, Walsall, Derby.  Only now being built to be opened in the autumn of 2024.  An official 10.7 Kms for £449.5 million (2019 figure when construction started).

The 00s saw the precious pronouncement that light rail was to be the catalyst, the enabler for the return of heavy trains to the 120 Kms Black Country Railway.  "Light rail investment provides the basis for restoring heavy rail services at the appropriate time."

The 10s saw the Laura Shoaf prized comment on BBC 'Midlands Today' of "passive provision" to enable the return of heavy rail trains once the trams have taken it all over!  All it means is that both have the same width of track.  And one set of track for both - totally impossible and unachieved 

2016 was the "bus on rails" tram bypassing Snow Hill station, leaving platform 4 wasted, unused still to this day!  The nearest stop to the station is Bull Street, a walk of 300 metres to the train platform!

The 2020s:-  still no commuter/regional trains on a single stretch of freight only railway lines of which there are 106 Kms in the Black Country and Brum!

NETWORK RAIL and TfWM are the problem

I've been told that Network Rail does not want passenger and freight trains mixing on the same track.

I've been told by Laura that freight trains are not allowed on the 120 Kms Black Country Railway until 2040s, at the earliest.

Big, highly prestigious schemes like Crossrail 1 and 2 and HS2 must have the bulk of the available money for railway restoration.

PER KM CONSTRUCTION COSTS:

£7m for Scotlands' Borders Railway rebuilt in 2015.  54% single track.

£21m for M6 Toll built in Dec 2003

£50m, at 2019, for Wednesbury, Brierley Hill Extension (WBHE).  But, possibly £100 m for Canal Street tram stop to Cottage Street terminal of 1.2 Kms distance.  Saved if the railway line is shared with Tata Steel trains to Stourbridge.

£75m (2017) for Metro Westside to make public transport worse

£133m (2020) for Metro Eastside

£200+ m for HS2.

MY RED LINE, please Rob to ensure, if you possibly can:

The 400 metre viaduct must keep well away from my landscape enhancement scheme, PLEASE, so that the trees are not affected.

Neither must any of the High Plateau housing scheme be taken for the tramline.  Please try and get them to redraw the route line on their plan.  Elsewhere in Europe trains/trams are raised on elevated steel structures over rivers, canals and roads.

MY PINK LINE:

Metro trams use the double track between Tata Steel (Round Oak) and Stourbridge Jct.

The Port Talbot steel trains use their one track at night (not liked by the workers)

OR, the steel trains use one track and Metro uses one track.  Network Rail may prefer this.

PATRICK'S enthusiasm for Metro may well mean that Dudley town shoppers may prefer using the tram to get to and from Merry Hill, to the detriment of Dudley town centre businesses.

THE short-lived 1990s Merry Hill monorail was brilliant for the Weller family!  REINSTATE!!

Best wishes

400 m Merry Hill Viaduct or, Use Existing Railway Infrastructure?

 On Thu, 23 Jun 2022 at 10:21, Tim Weller <timweller1@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Chairman, Cllr Mark - and copied to the members of the Housing and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee

Once again, I feel I need to cycle up the hill and ask for your forbearance to let me speak in the Public Forum item this evening, please.  SEE MY EMAIL TO SANDEEP AND MARILYN, below.

I want to ask that each member might like to write one email
to Mayor, andy.street@wmca.org.uk and
to the WMCA Chief Executive, Laura Shoaf Laura.Shoaf@wmca.org.uk
to review the wisdom of going ahead with the wholesale destruction wreaked upon the only Public Open Space at Merry Hill Shopping Centre by the Dudley Tram, aka WBHE.

In SUMMARY
  • it might cost as much as £100 m for the two canal bridges and the 400 metre, standard gauge, double-track, concrete and steel viaduct.
  • It will bury Nature at the very time when we need to have a far greater respect for her because we, ourselves, are part of nature.  As we bury her under concrete, brick and tarmac we end up burying ourselves!
  • There is a perfectly good alternative that connects the trams running on the railway line from Cinder Bank roundabout with the national railway network at Stourbridge Jct.
Many thanks

Tim

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Tim Weller <timweller1@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2022 at 16:26
Subject: 400 m Merry Hill Viaduct or, Use Existing Railway Infrastructure?
To: <marilyn.grazette@tfwm.org.uk>, Sandeep Shingadia <Sandeep.Shingadia@tfwm.org.uk>

Dear Sandeep and Marilyn

I would like you and your colleagues to reconsider the WBHE devastating the 400 metre Dudley No 1 Canal embankment at Merry Hill and think, instead of keeping the trams on the railway line to Stourbridge Junction station.

What is destroyed is the only public open space, the nearest thing to a Nature site with my landscape enhancement scheme against the corroded metal sheet piling at the southern end of the embankment.  In the light of the ongoing climate emergency declared in 2019 by the WMCA, and the inflation, energy, and cost of living crises today, I think it is best not to bury Nature under concrete, brick and tarmac, by the planned standard gauge, double-track, concrete and steel, 400 metre railway/tram viaduct for Metro trams on the Dudley No 1 Canal embankment.  Instead, the trams might stay on the mainline railway "of national strategic significance" all the way to Stourbridge Junction station, with tram stops at the Waterfront, Brierley Hill and Withymoor.

Part of the embankment that gets destroyed:

I would prefer the carbon dioxide absorbing grass and tree embankment to be allowed to be naturally rewilded into first long grass, then the natural succession to shrub and finally woodland as part of the Black Country Urban Forest and the WMCA Virtual Forest.  This is essential to slow the climate crisis.  The mowing of the embankment seems to have temporarily stopped, perhaps in expectation of the eventual construction of the 400 metre concrete and steel viaduct.  However, there is still time to permanently stop the destruction that comes with the viaduct being built and start recovering more of the railway that Network Rail and the DfT insist is "of national strategic significance" (see letter, below).

Many thanks if you could review this part of the scheme, please.

Grossly extravagant Metro for those struggling with paying bills

Tim I was hoping to meet up with you to try to listen and understand. But instead you are trying to bounce me into supporting something that I have doubts about. Firstly the track bed is required for heavy rail Goods traffic between Stour Jun and Road Oak Rail. Secondly I don’t think your description of the man made bank stands any kind of scrutiny. What is the problem of providing public transport for One of the most deprived Wards in Dudley I’m not happy that you won’t compromise or seem to not recognise the rights of poorer people to decent exciting public transport ?

Thursday, 23 June 2022

How did Boris Johnson pull off such a big win when Brexit is so unpopular?

Barnaby Lane

Economist. Pro-Europe, Pro-BrexitUpdated 2y

Brexit is very popular. It’s hard to find an issue on which there’s anything approaching 50% support but Brexit is one. The Conservatives won not despite, but precisely because of the deep popularity of Brexit.

Brexit proved so popular in fact, that people were prepared to break habits of a lifetime, just to secure it. Enough to swing the election for the Conservatives. People who had never voted Conservative in their lives, did so in this election, because of Brexit. They saw the Conservatives as the only way to get it.

Labour’s fence sitting on Brexit didn’t convince them. People cared about Brexit much more than they cared about Labour. Part of the reason for Labour’s undoing in this election was the popularity of Brexit.

General elections are always about multiple issues. You can always find something about the winning government that is unpopular. If Labour had got in, the most glaringly, obviously unpopular thing would have been the Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn.

Faced with a choice between a popular issue like Brexit and an unpopular leader like Jeremy Corbyn, the real surprise here is that anyone’s surprised about the outcome.

from David Sheppard

Tim I was hoping to meet up with you to try to listen and understand. But instead you are trying to bounce me into supporting something that I have doubts about. Firstly the track bed is required for heavy rail Goods traffic between Stour Jun and Road Oak Rail. Secondly I don’t think your description of the man made bank stands any kind of scrutiny. What is the problem of providing public transport for One of the most deprived Wards in Dudley I’m not happy that you won’t compromise or seem to not recognise the rights of poorer people to decent exciting public transport ?

Sorry, David.  I don't want to put any pressure on you, at all.

I think you do know that I have, over the years, since the 1990s asked for the freight, commuter and regional trains to be returned to the Stourbridge to Walsall railway line.  Then, around 2000 I was told that it continued beyond Walsall to Burton on Trent.  I was amazed.  But how true.  The full 56 Kms between Stourbridge and Burton on Trent is safeguarded/mothballed and even three people I spoke to on the cycle-walkway on the section between Walsall and Brownhills, realise it will have to have its trains and stations returned one day!

However, despite my reminders to you good LibDems that I was still around, I received not a single request to tell you more!  Now, without your involvement, Dudley railway station has been turned into Dudley Castle Hill Tram Stop!  Even worse, the BCIMO HQ is built on the site.

Having successfully failed over decades, my last ditch stand is to try and save the 400 metre, Dudley No 1 Canal embankment from being converted into a major, standard gauge, double track railway/tram, concrete and steel viaduct, stretching for nearly a quarter of a mile!  It will ruin the view for the boaters and towpath walkers across to the Netherton and Clent Hills and help to ruin the prospects of our descendants too, of course, in the light of the climate/nature/ecological/cost of living crises.

Please still meet me, David at your earliest convenience where Level Street crosses the towpath.  I will fit in with you.

All the best

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

to Sandeep and Marilyn

Dear Sandeep and Marilyn

I would like you and your colleagues to reconsider the WBHE devastating the 400 metre Dudley No 1 Canal embankment at Merry Hill and think, instead of keeping the trams on the railway line to Stourbridge Junction station.

What is destroyed is the only public open space, the nearest thing to a Nature site with my landscape enhancement scheme against the corroded metal sheet piling at the southern end of the embankment.  In the light of the ongoing climate emergency declared in 2019 by the WMCA, and the inflation, energy, and cost of living crises today, I think it is best not to bury Nature under concrete, brick and tarmac, by the planned standard gauge, double-track, concrete and steel, 400 metre railway/tram viaduct for Metro trams on the Dudley No 1 Canal embankment.  Instead, the trams might stay on the mainline railway "of national strategic significance" all the way to Stourbridge Junction station, with tram stops at the Waterfront, Brierley Hill and Withymoor.

Part of the embankment that gets destroyed:

I would prefer the carbon dioxide absorbing grass and tree embankment to be allowed to be naturally rewilded into first long grass, then the natural succession to shrub and finally woodland as part of the Black Country Urban Forest and the WMCA Virtual Forest.  This is essential to slow the climate crisis.  The mowing of the embankment seems to have temporarily stopped, perhaps in expectation of the eventual construction of the 400 metre concrete and steel viaduct.  However, there is still time to permanently stop the destruction that comes with the viaduct being built and start recovering more of the railway that Network Rail and the DfT insist is "of national strategic significance" (see letter, below).

Many thanks if you could review this part of the scheme, please.

More from Mike Tucker and me

Thanks very much for these excellent insights from Mike and Jake.

Mike, do you know where this one billion dollar/euro per day came from?  I heard it on the Jeremy Vine Show in May and on the 'Today' programme, too.  Do you know if it is correct/accurate?

Can someone tell me if the West made it clear to Putrid that we would be arming Ukraine, as well as imposing the toughest of sanctions if he escalated the war by officially invading?  I am wanting to do what I can to hold my Western leaders to the highest ethical standards and to be people of integrity, probity, honour (NOT like that ghastly, thoroughly shameless B Johnson disgrace of a man).  If we don't stick to the rules, how we can expect Russia to keep to them?  I believe, we also invaded Afghanistan, in 1837, before Russia did!  Having written that I'm not sure, now - I'll check!

I'm minimising my use of oil by using solar elecy, self-powered bike and bus/train and no gas at all since the 7 March.  This is my non-violent resistance to Putrid and in resisting climate breakdown.  The less we spend the more we fight Putrid and climate, it seems to me.  Or, am I deluded?

I'd love to meet you, Jake to show you the results of immoral, flash, "bus on rails" Metro arriving on the ground.  At Merry Hill or Five Ways or Snow Hill Sta, Jake?

to Dave Brownhill, Black Country Radio

Many thanks for this feedback, Dave.  Can I please show you, in person, the canal embankment from Level Street towpath southwards to where the tramline crosses the canal into Cottage Street, Brierley Hill?  I can fit in with what is most convenient to your good self.  My number 0791 380 4363.

I don't want to confront in a nasty way that, perhaps you think I have come across as, this time.  So thanks so much for telling me and I will start deleting!  However, I do want to challenge and question and put another point of view to the experts.  It is the beauty of living in the UK that we can do that.  My own attachment in the PS below, I think, does use humour and satire, that helps to get the message over.  Please read it and tell me what you think.

41 years is exactly how long this saga has gone on for, according to Wikepedia's history of the West Midlands Metro project.  Do check it out.  It is now, very, very slowly (why is that?) coming to fruition as regards the Wednesbury, Brierley Hill Extension only, on the UK's only, safeguarded/mothballed mainline railway - the Black Country Railway from Worcester to Derby.

70 years is how long the authorities have been destroying first our extensive tram network in the W Mids and, then would you believe, they started on the railway network from the 60s to this present day!

I am a past Chairman of the Birmingham Consumer Group when we were successful in the almost total pedestrianisation of New Street in Brum city centre.  My background is that of being a watchdog and of probing possible misdeeds and hypocrisy.  It is not confined to 10 Downing Street, I can assure you!

Why do reporters now shun every Dudley Council committee meeting I have been to in more recent years?  BBC's Rob Mayor did attend one, last decade and put me on Radio WM with Cllr Khurshid Ahmed, shortly afterwards.

Why has only Mark Andrews (reporter on the 'Express and Star') ever followed up what I have uncovered but I do have the ear of those in authority who, like Sandeep, have all been unable to show that I am mistaken in my evidence and conclusions.

Will you please explain Dave, why the obliteration of the only official, public green space at Merry Hill and its burial in concrete, brick and tarmac is of no interest to you and your listeners?  Why can't it be saved as Nature rewilded that is now occurring, naturally and, as part of the Black Country Urban Forest that I have contributed to with my much appreciated by some, guerrilla gardening over the decades?

Why are you not on my side, Dave - as are, at least, one or two Dudley councillors and many others who totally understand that I am on to something?  Even Railfuture, the national lobbying group for a bigger and better railway, gave me the brilliant strap line for our forgotten, half-finished railway, as "Burton to Bristol via Brierley Hill and Derby to Devon via Dudley".  How very true!

Over the years, Mark Andrews of the 'Express and Star' has included my findings and conclusions in the pieces he has written about Metro and railway re-openings.  Do speak to him, Dave.

Do please re-read Sandeep's letter and my sentence by sentence rebuttal that is certainly straight talking but is polite, fair and reasonable - don't you think?  His letter does nothing to address my perfectly reasonable request to keep the tram to the railway line so that it still serves Brierley Hill but also connects with the national railway network at Stourbridge Jct.  Merry Hill can be connected by electric bus from the Waterfront tram stop.  It does not need the official, over indulgent, flash, grossly expensive "bus on rails" Metro tram.  What is so stupid about that, Dave?  And why did Sandeep not answer or rebut that alternative of mine?  Very much cheaper, too at a time of fast rising inflation and energy prices!

Many thanks for writing and telling me what you think, Dave.  It is wonderful to have someone who cares and engages!

"Nato has a lot to answer for."

I so agreed with you when you said, "Nato has a lot to answer for."  I fear, Nato/EU's totally unnecessary expansion eastwards to take over the USSR's former satellite states exploited Russia's generous glasnost and perestroika in the 80s and 90s that led to the USSR break up, was very foolish.  I think it was all about vanquish rather than magnanimity/restraint.  But it is easy for me to be wise after the event!  Is that right, do you think?

Monday, 20 June 2022

to Corin Crane, Paul Faulkner, Anthony Smith

Sun, 5 Jul 2020, 22:14

to CorinBirmingham, bcc: anthony.smith, bcc: anthonywhitehouse67, bcc: cllr.mike.bird, bcc: jonn.elledge, bcc: james.morris.mp, bcc: Malcolm.Holmes
Any comments, please gentleman?

Indeed, well done to all. According to author, Mick Hamer, London had electric buses for a few years 110 years ago. Instead of many millions wasted in trying and failing to get 15 tram lines over 200 Kms by yr 2000, we could have had electric buses over the entire fleet in W Mids


TO: Paul Faulkner - Brum Chamber

YES, Paul. It is electric "bus on rails" trams that has been the big distraction & diversion for you, the Chamber & every councillor & transport professional in our region. Why did you not to for the basics, first? Get electric buses, with free fares for all, not just my age gp.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

"Code Red for Humanity"

 

Secretary-General Calls Latest IPCC Climate Report ‘Code Red for Humanity’, Stressing ‘Irrefutable’ Evidence of Human Influence

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ statement on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1 report on the physical science basis of the sixth assessment, today:

Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 report is a code red for humanity.  The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable:  greenhouse‑gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.  Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.

The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5°C is perilously close.  We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5°C in the near term.  The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts and pursuing the most ambitious path.

We must act decisively now to keep 1.5°C alive.  We are already at 1.2°C and rising.  Warming has accelerated in recent decades.  Every fraction of a degree counts.  Greenhouse‑gas concentrations are at record levels.  Extreme weather and climate disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity.  That is why this year’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow is so important.

The viability of our societies depends on leaders from government, business and civil society uniting behind policies, actions and investments that will limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.  We owe this to the entire human family, especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities and nations that are the hardest hit despite being least responsible for today’s climate emergency.

The solutions are clear.  Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage.  All nations, especially the G20 and other major emitters, need to join the net-zero emissions coalition and reinforce their commitments with credible, concrete and enhanced nationally determined contributions and policies before COP26 in Glasgow.

We need immediate action on energy.  Without deep carbon pollution cuts now, the 1.5°C goal will fall quickly out of reach.  This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.  There must be no new coal plants built after 2021.  OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries must phase out existing coal by 2030, with all others following suit by 2040.  Countries should also end all new fossil fuel exploration and production, and shift fossil-fuel subsidies into renewable energy.  By 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple and renewable energy investments should triple to maintain a net-zero trajectory by mid-century.

Climate impacts will undoubtedly worsen.  There is a clear moral and economic imperative to protect the lives and livelihoods of those on the front lines of the climate crisis.  Adaptation and resilience finance must cease being the neglected half of the climate equation.  Only 21 per cent of climate support is directed towards adaptation.  I again call on donors and the multilateral development banks to allocate at least 50 per cent of all public climate finance to protecting people, especially women and vulnerable groups.  COVID-19 recovery spending must be aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.  And the decade‑old promise to mobilize $100 billion annually to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries must be met.

The climate crisis poses enormous financial risk to investment managers, asset owners and businesses.  These risks should be measured, disclosed and mitigated.  I am asking corporate leaders to support a minimum international carbon price and align their portfolios with the Paris Agreement.  The public and private sector must work together to ensure a just and rapid transformation to a net-zero global economy.

If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe.  But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.  I count on Government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.

for Climate Change/Environment Scrutiny Committee on 20 June 2022


BLEAK OUTLOOK AS WE IGNORE THE WARNINGS:

"Code Red for Humanity" from Antonio Guterres, Sec Gen, UN on 9 August 2021

"... the collapse of civilisations, the extinction of much of the natural world and time is running out ..." warnings from Sir David Attenborough

"You are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the Earth belong to us all and the Earth itself to nobody." Rousseau, ‘Discourse on the Origin of Inequality’, 1754

I heard about climate change in about 1980 when I saw a BBC TV 'Tomorrow's World' programme. The main greenhouse gases are CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and water vapour.

Finite fossil fuels are coal, oil and gas and all give off greenhouse gases that enhance the natural greenhouse effect. The natural greenhouse effect makes life on earth possible. Unfortunately, the burning up in 300 years of our one-off geological inheritance that took 300 m years to form is enhancing that natural greenhouse effect to raise temperatures to make life uninhabitable on earth. This is called human-induced climate change. Hence, we have to urgently and drastically cut all GHG by quickly reducing our use of fossil fuels and, ideally, leaving them in the ground.

We can get out of using oil and gas by spending less, like:
  1. Using a self-powered bike or a bus to come to council meetings.
  2. Switching off lights when you leave a room - especially in the Council House.
  3. Turning down the temperature of the room you sit in and wearing more clothing, instead.
  4. Buying less of absolutely everything and making everything last a lot longer.
  5. Insulating your council offices and your own homes to the maximum possible.
  6. Put in secondary glazing or double/triple glazing.
  7. Use your car as little as possible and try walking and cycling and public transport.
  8. Immediately, tell your officers to scrap Metro tram extensions that have spoilt and even destroyed railway lines and infrastructure in the Black Country and Brum. And, Five Ways underpass.
  9. Put the commuter and regional trains back on the 120 Kms Black Country Railway "of national strategic significance" that has not yet been turned into the over £500 million, 10 Kms Dudley Tram.
  10. Bring in FFPT to reward everyone who uses bus, trains and trams, with traffic priority for buses on the inside lane and a stiff financial charges for every vehicle on main roads, within the Outer Ring Road, in the rush hours that are not registered as being essential vehicle users.
  11. Move your council offices to more energy efficient buildings like those at the Waterfront and use the railway line!
  12. There is still time to cancel the climate-busting concrete and steel, double-track railway/tram viaduct to smother the carbon-absorbing grass, soil and trees/shrubs on Dudley's No 1 premier canal embankment at Merry Hill.
timweller1@gmail.com     0791 380 4363

Friday, 17 June 2022

Wikipedia extract re Revolution of Dignity

Protesters occupied government buildings in many regions of Ukraine. The uprising climaxed on 18–20 February, when fierce fighting in Kyiv between Maidan activists and police resulted in the deaths of almost 100 protesters and 13 police.[64]

As a result, an agreement was signed on 21 February 2014 by Yanukovych and leaders of the parliamentary opposition that called for the creation of an interim unity government, constitutional reforms and early elections. Shortly after the agreement, Yanukovych and other government ministers fled the country.[89] Parliament then removed Yanukovych from office[90] and installed an interim government.[91] The Revolution of Dignity was soon followed by the Russian annexation of Crimea and pro-Russian unrest in Eastern Ukraine.

The seeds sown in the 1990s; bearing fruit in the 2010s

Rather late in the day, Russian nationalists, like Putrid Putin woke up to how the American-led West was nibbling away at its former sphere of influence over so much of E Europe over a twenty to thirty-year period. It started with the ending of the Cold War with Russia losing out, big time to the West as former Warsaw Pact countries changed sides and joined NATO and/or the EU.  This must have been very hard for the Russian nationalists to swallow.

Russia's feelings in all this was never considered, I'm sure.  Then, our (violent - over 100 killed) Revolution of Dignity in Maidan Sq was the last straw for Putrid and, the Russian separatists in the East of Ukraine who rose up in counter-revolt.  Putrid took back Crimea in revenge.  The West never protested and I thought that was hardly surprising when our side overthrew a pro-Russian President Yanukovych who had been properly and fairly elected in 2010.

I don't think we should have let them join the two big Western clubs.  We should have said, 'Stay friends with all your neighbours, especially Russia and don't provoke them.  The West cannot possibly give you everything you want out of respect for Russian feelings.  And certainly don't poke the Big Bear.

to Cllr Judy Foster

Thanks, Judy.

I have contacted Ridha and, indeed every Opposition councillor to urge them to act.  I am genuinely puzzled by the sheer indifference, apathy, acquiescence and the wish to be walked all over, when not one of you good councillors have been given the opportunity to hear both sides of the case!

Please, finally discuss the matter in Shadow Cabinet and come to some consensus!

to Labour cllrs, so far re the embankment

After forty years, it is still not too late to ask for the responsible, very much cheaper and sensible plan to send the Dudley trams down the railway line to Stourbridge Jct, with a tram stop at Brierley Hill.  Please explain this to Qadar and your colleagues.  And, you are the official Opposition, too!  My council tax includes your expenses to oppose this very foolish and immoral and scandalous plan to destroy your premier Dudley No 1 Canal embankment, the only public open space and, by the rusty iron wall, the nature site at Merry Hill.

Like me, please insist that the Dudley tram must use the principal, mainline railway "of national strategic significance".

Thursday, 16 June 2022

"Unconditional surrender from Russia and, it must return Crimea", says Liz Truss

Hi Mike - our expert on foreign affairs.

Did our side overthrow the pro-Russian Ukrainian government in Feb 2014 and that led Russia to take back Crimea and start the separatists' war in Donbas that led to 14,000 killings in Ukraine up to Feb 2022?

MIKE'S REPLY:
For a short answer within my understanding, which is limited because I am not an expert on Ukrainian political and social movements, although I have a degree of knowledge of Russian and Soviet history, I can say the following.

1). Putin has his own motives for his actions in 2014 so to imply that his actions were a reaction to others only is not to attempt an understanding of the emergence of Putin as the dominant political leader in Russia after Yeltsin and the international strategies and policies that he has developed since then. Any actions he took in 2014 needs to be understood within that context. Taking that as read, his actions in 2014 were in response to the political events within the Ukraine which moved in a direction that rejected the leadership of Yanukovich and the pro-Russian policies he wanted to pursue and those within the Ukraine who favoured a pro-Russian policy. The context within Ukraine is that after the decisive vote in the independence referendum of 1991, Ukrainian political movements switched between western and Russian oriented political tendencies with external support from western states and from Russia. Both tendencies were heavily dominated by oligarchic capitalist groups dominating the economy, media and politics. 

2). The USA and the intelligence services allied to them like ours have a long reach and western states have a far greater economic power than Russia and the ability to offer incentives that Russia cannot match and although the overthrow of Yanukovich in 2014 was an internally driven political process within the Ukraine I suspect it was supported covertly by western intelligence and its agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy and overtly because of the offers from the EU states of a partnership agreement with the west. Internally Ukrainian political movements were torn after 1991 into either a western or Russian international orientation which shifted in each of the elections after 1991. I do not accept the 2014 overthrow of Yanukovich as coup directed by the western powers.

3). Political movements in the Donbas were more allied to a pro-Russian orientation and as a major industrial zone since the 19th century it had strong ties to Russia economically which made it more understandable they were more sympathetic to Russia. Russia intervened with covert military support to political movements that wanted more autonomy for the regions and the attempt to set up separatist movements after 2014. I have read conflicting reports as to how genuine the separatist sentiment amongst the wider Donbas population was.

So in summary what I am saying is that what has happened is down to internal political and social movements within the Ukraine, these movements are not proxies for external states. External states have tried to influence these Ukrainian political movements. In my view Russia took the more aggressive response to what was happening in the Ukraine than that of western states. 

Mike

MINE:
Very many thanks for this, Mike.

I am very concerned that our side felt unable to wait for a chance to overthrow Yanukovich in a competently and fairly run election.  This was an own goal by liberal democratic forces within Ukraine.  An utter tragedy that was, possibly, not condemned by the American/UK-led West at the time.  Putrid Putin must have been absolutely furious!  Hence, the 2021 re-assurances or demands that were never forthcoming from NATO before the war's escalation in Feb 22. Our side called it appeasement if we did what Putrid wanted.  Liz Truss is demanding unconditional surrender and the return of Crimea, instead.

Is this a fair summary, Mike?

16 June 2022:
I do fear that the UK's open-arms approach to Ukrainian refugees fleeing war and our firmly closed arms to refugees from every other war-torn country, does give the game away.  It shows how we will welcome those suffering at the hands of our No 1 sworn enemy, Russia and her war (fueled by our gifts of "only 'defensive' weapons" to make it our war, too).  No way do they have to risk drowning in the Channel, only to be jetted off to Rwanda.  We are not so welcoming to those from our own initiated wars in past years, like Afghanistan and Iraq or from our present war on Yemen!

Do remember that the West's wars and Russia's wars are all good for the capitalist armament factories in America and Europe and in Russia.  All helpful for economic growth and the fat profits for the armament kings and queens.  Never unemployment or low wages for those workers.  No industrial action, ever from trade unions in the factories churning out the weapons to kill and maim.  Only strikes from the railway workers next week when one of their leaders, last decade, publicly said that they would use their muscle to get more wages for nurses!

Only one railway worker, the brave and campaigning train driver Dave Parsons, has helped and supported me in my efforts to highlight, and our attempt to stop, the sheer scale and the long decades of our self-inflicted and ongoing destruction of about one-third of our railway network for roads and buildings and private gardens.  Dave resigned from ASLEF a couple of years ago in disgust at his union.

Tim