New president named for UN climate summit in Glasgow

Alok Sharma will take on preparations with only nine months to go before COP26.

Alok Sharma was appointed to the role during the cabinet reshuffle on Thursday. Getty Images
Alok Sharma was appointed to the role during the cabinet reshuffle on Thursday.

Boris Johnson’s new business secretary will take charge of a crucial UN climate summit in Glasgow later this year.

Alok Sharma is the new president of the COP26 talks that will see world leaders and delegates congregate in the Scotland.

He will take over preparations after the sacking of former clean growth minister Claire O’Neill a fortnight ago.

The talks in November are the most important since the Paris Agreement to curb global warming was secured in 2015.

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Tensions between Holyrood and Westminster have been raised over policing costs.

It emerged this week that an alternative venue in London was being lined up to host the conference.

Number Ten dismissed arrangements as standard contingency planning, but concerns have been raised that the location could be switched.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promised to work “closely and constructively” with Johnson’s administration over the summit.

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She said it was “silly” to suggest there were problems between the two governments over the summit.

But she also accused the PM of “playing politics with the biggest issue of our time”.

In a tweet, O’Neill welcomed the new appointment, saying: “Alok is a very good person who I am sure will get to grips quickly with the challenge…”

Sharma, the MP for Reading West, is a trained as an accountant and worked in banking before entering politics ten years ago.

Sharma was international development secretary for the last six months, and has had several junior ministerial roles including at the Foreign Office.

Christian Aid’s global climate lead, Dr Kat Kramer, said taking on the task of ensuring the crucial talks succeed “is a huge responsibility for the UK and its role on the global stage”.

“It would have been a big task had Alok Sharma been in post from the beginning, rather than coming in late in the process.

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“It’s now vital he works very closely with the backing of the Prime Minister to both get other countries to commit to new pledges to tackle the climate crisis but also put the UK’s own house in order and enact policies to accelerate UK decarbonisation.”

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