Our volunteer-led network Humanist Climate Action spoke with Siân Berry – London Assembly Member, former Co-Leader of the Green Party, and Humanists UK patron – about Siân’s humanist and environmental values, how they coincide, and how they inform her activism and work to put pressure on those in power. Humanist Climate Action’s Lori Marriott finds out more…
Tell us a bit about yourself – how long have you been a humanist?
I signed up [to Humanists UK ] officially about ten years ago, but this followed many years of clearly following humanist principles in my life, recognising the value of shared humanity, culture and human rights, and our huge responsibility to the unique planet on which we have evolved.
How did you come to be interested in environmental concerns?
At school I lived through the huge scare for the ozone layer caused by the reckless use of chemicals. I thought then that the world would mend all its destructive ways in good time. Later on, I saw this was not happening and that I had a personal duty to help. I started small though, simply volunteering to help the Green Party with its website and in my local council ward, but things escalated quickly after that!
How do your humanist values lead you to want to take environmental action?
That long view of the earth as a little blue dot should make us all think about the need to preserve and protect the huge range of life that shares our little planet. There are no gods to do this for us, and that is a good thing to know, because it gives us a chance to build the future we want, and to build in global justice and an equal and thriving culture at the same time.
Do you think it is important for Humanist Climate Action to exist as a part of Humanists UK?
Every organisation should have a group like this. Co-operation and community are strong Green values, and a lot of my work supports people to build up ideas from the grassroots. I’ve been inspired lately to meet with new groups of architects and lawyers, and of course school students, bringing climate action to their peers.
What’s your biggest environmental concern?
I am so worried that the prospect of preventing runaway climate change is slipping through our grasp. Back in 2018, the UN’s special report gave us a 50:50 chance of achieving this if we agreed on really dramatic action to change society and live within the planet’s limits. Progress is far too slow, and the thought of not making it genuinely keeps me up at night.
What one thing would you encourage people to do to live a greener lifestyle?
Fixing our individual lifestyles is one thing, but the best thing you can do right now is talk to other people about the need to get involved in putting pressure on those in power. We have no time left to lose.
This interview was originally published in Humanist Climate Action’s January 2023 newsletter. Want to stay up to date with Humanist Climate Action? Sign up as a supporter and receive their newsletter by clicking the options below. Photograph of Siân Berry published under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0
Humanist Climate Action
Humanist Climate Action is made up of humanists committed to redefining lifestyles, choices, and priorities for low-carbon, ethical, and sustainable living in the light of the degeneration of the Earth’s climate and biodiversity. We aim to bring humanists together to facilitate individual and collective actions on these issues.