Alok Sharma, who was appointed to the cabinet role of Business secretary in the Boris Johnson government following the December 2019 election, was on Friday appointed full-time president of UN COP26 climate conference scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among world leaders due to attend the key climate conference. COP26 will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, bringing together representatives from nearly 200 countries, including leaders, experts, and campaigners.
Prime Minister Johnson appointed Kwasi Kwarteng, who was minister of state in the Department of Business, Energy and Clean Growth, as the new Business secretary. Sharma’s new role will continue to have cabinet status and he will report directly to the Prime Minister.
Downing Street said in a statement that to meet the high ambitions for the summit, Sharma will solely focus on driving forward coordinated global action to tackle climate change. Officials said that a successful summit in November will be critical to meet the objectives set out by the Paris Agreement and reduce global emissions.
It added that the UK has set a high bar, with recent commitment to reduce emissions by at least 68% by 2030, but also need other countries to do their bit. Sharma has been leading the UK’s climate diplomacy, since assuming the role in February 2020, and will now focus on it exclusively.
The Climate Ambition Summit co-hosted by the UK in December last year saw 75 world leaders set out new commitments to climate action.
Sharma said: “The biggest challenge of our time is climate change and we need to work together to deliver a cleaner, greener world and build back better for present and future generations”.
“Through the UK’s Presidency of COP26 we have a unique opportunity, working with friends and partners around the world, to deliver on this goal.
“Given the vital importance of tackling climate change I am delighted to have been asked by the Prime Minister to dedicate all my energies to this urgent task,” he added.
Sharma is one of four Indian-origin members around Johnson’s cabinet table, besides chancellor Rishi Sunak, home secretary Priti Patel and attorney gneral Suella Braverman.