Former Business Secretary Alok Sharma has been appointed President of the UN COP26 climate conference with energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng appointed to replace him as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has appointed Alok Sharma as full-time President of the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, due to take place in November 2021 following pressure to have a permanent full-time government member organising the event.
COP26 will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, bringing together representatives from nearly 200 countries, including world leaders, experts, and campaigners with the aim of accelerating global targets for climate change.
The summit, which hopes to build on the Paris Agreement five years ago, will see Sharma focus on new targets for global emissions – including the UK’s ambitious goal to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030.
Last December, the UK held the Climate Ambition Summit, which set out new commitments on climate action from 75 world leaders. The COP26 President will be based in the Cabinet Office, continuing as a full member of Cabinet, and will chair the Climate Action Implementation Committee to coordinate government action towards net zero by 2050 in the run up to COP26.
COP26 President Alok 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.
As a result of Sharma’s move, Kwasi Kwarteng has been appointed Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Kwarteng has cross-departmental experience and previous was a minister of state at BEIS. Anne-Marie Trevelyan will take Kwarteng’s place in the mini-reshuffle at the Business Department, becoming minister of state for business, energy and clean growth, taking forward climate and energy policy. This portfolio includes implementing plans in the prime minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, such as the target to remove the sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
Trevelyan will also continue in her role as UK’s international champion on adaptation and resilience for the COP26 presidency, supporting countries vulnerable to climate change to adapt to its impacts and build resilience.