Alok Sharma has been announced by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the United Kingdom’s Minister with responsibility for COP26, the United Nations Climate Summit which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland in November this year. He is also the UK’s new Minister for the country’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Sharma’s appointment follows the sudden 31 January sacking of the event’s UK president Clare O’Neill, following which O’Neill described UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as someone who “doesn’t really get” climate change and Johnson’s government having "huge lack of leadership and engagement" in the subject, writing to Johnson that "The cabinet sub-committee on climate that you promised to chair, and which I was to attend, has not met once”.
"In the absence of your promised leadership… departments have fought internal Whitehall battles over who is responsible and accountable for (the conference)".
She said at this stage, the UK should have clear actions to communicate to the diplomatic network, an agreed plan of ministerial international engagements led by the prime minister and a roadmap for a proposed "year of action". (BBC)
Conservative MP Sharma has previously held ministerial responsibility for Housing, Employment and International Development in the conservative UK government.
As International Development Minister, Sharma pledged extra UK aid in January this year to help African governments “to raise finance to deliver much needed high-quality public sector infrastructure projects, such as building schools and hospitals and boosting access to clean energy and water supplies for the poorest people”.
There has been some leak-informed speculation that the Johnson government will move to relocate the venue of COP26 from Glasgow to London, as Scotland’s devolved government’s progressive position on climate change and thinking about water challenges sits at odds with the UK’s less enthusiastic stance.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has responded to this suggestion by accusing Boris Johnson of “playing politics with the biggest issue of our time”, adding: “He should be called out on it, not indulged”.