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Kwarteng becomes energy secretary as Sharma takes on COP presidency full time

Words: Laura Edgar
Alok Sharma / Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a minor reshuffle to his cabinet. Alok Sharma will take on the role of president of the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this November.

The move sees Kwasi Kwarteng promoted to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He served as a minister under Sharma when he was the secretary of state.

COP26, which was postponed from November 2020 to November 2021 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, will bring together representatives such as world leaders and campaigners from nearly 200 countries.

In order to meet “high ambitions” for COP26, the government said Sharma would solely focus on “driving forward coordinated global action to tackle climate change”.

“A successful summit in November will be critical if we want to meet the objectives set out by the Paris agreement and reduce global emissions. The UK has set a high bar, with our recent commitment to reduce emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030, but we also need other countries to do their bit.”

Sharma became the president of COP26 in February 2020. The role will be based in the Cabinet Office and Sharma will continue to be a full member of the cabinet. He will chair the Climate Action Implementation Committee.

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.”

Kwarteng will lead and bring together work on “business, science and innovation to unleash investment and growth in his new role as secretary of state,” the government explained.

RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said: “Kwasi Kwarteng has championed renewable energy indefatigably in his role as energy minister, engaging with us constantly on how to ramp up the deployment of onshore and offshore wind and innovative technologies like floating wind, tidal stream and wave power and renewable hydrogen, so we can reach net-zero emissions as fast and as cheaply as possible. His keen focus on vital work to develop the UK renewable energy supply chain with us will help to create tens of thousands of jobs over the course of this decade in the prime minister’s Green Industrial Revolution. We’re also looking forward to working closely with Anne-Marie Trevelyan in her new role as minister for business, energy and clean growth.”

Trevelyan will become Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth. She will work on climate and energy policy, such as the implementation of Johnson’s 10 point plan for a green recovery from Covid-19. She will continue in her role as the UK’s international champion on adaptation and resilience for the COP26 presidency.

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