EU FOCUS

Interview with Siân Berry

April 4, 2019

IMAGE: Chris King

Siân Berry’s nickname should perhaps be ‘Steely Determination’ Berry, because she never lets disappointments or the position of underdog defeat her.

 

As the only Green Councillor of 54 on Camden Council, and one of just two Greens in the 25-strong London Assembly, she knows all about fighting to make her voice heard. Siân has campaigned on many human rights and green issues, pushing for improved regeneration and planning policies, greener building measures and reduced air pollution, including demanding a more effective low emission zone and better bike facilities. She’s a Londoner passionate about her city and community, and her first Council motion was to establish a £1 million fund to help prevent closure of local community centres and libraries.

 

While she’s currently best known as Co-Leader of the Green Party alongside Jonathan Bartley, she ran for Mayor of London in 2008 and 2016 and undeterred, she is running again in 2020. The city’s housing crisis will be at the centre of her campaign as she promotes a ‘people’s land bank’, allowing communities to use empty buildings and land. She has promised to build on the party’s record-breaking campaign success and to help put together “the most inspiring and effective Green campaign our city has seen.” We can’t wait to see it!

 

We caught up with Siân, in the midst of the UK’s current political turmoil, to ask how the UK can move beyond politics to focus on green issues that affect everyone, whatever their party allegiance.

 

 

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What more can be done in your opinion to make sure that the UK does not continue to let political discourse compromise its response to the climate crisis?

 

We cannot ignore the climate breakdown that is already happening – and will worsen without serious, urgent intervention. At the London Assembly, the Green Party won the support of our fellow Assembly Members – and the Mayor – when we called on them to stand alongside us to declare a climate emergency.

 

This isn't a party political issue, it goes beyond that. We've seen this from the climate strikes led by schoolchildren and councils of varying stripes declaring climate emergencies around the country. But declaring an emergency is not enough.

 

In London, we have urged the Mayor to now produce a 12-year emergency climate change plan consistent with keeping global temperatures at or below 1.5°C.

 

He must bring London's zero carbon target forward to 2030 and address the adaptation measures needed to cope with extreme weather events, like flooding and heatwaves, associated with rapid global warming.

 

The Mayor requires additional powers and huge resources from Government to make this possible. The Government have already been taken to court over their lacklustre plans to meet their 2050 carbon target but I am hopeful that people demanding action will have a positive effect.

 

And while the Mayor is fighting a third runway at Heathrow, his support for expansion at other London airports is inconsistent with tackling climate change. We have urged him to call for a suspension of all aviation expansion and invite his C40 counterparts to join him. This would send a very powerful message. The IPCC's Special Report on Global Warming describes the enormous harm we face. But it also confirms that limiting global warming may still be possible with ambitious action from Government and regional authorities. We all must keep demanding this action.

 

 

 

 

 

Siân's campaign for a Green London:

 

http://www.sianberry.london

 

 

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