Indian-origin Alok Sharma on February 13 was named as the new United Kingdom Minister in charge of the crunch UN climate talks to be hosted by Britain this November. British PM Boris Johnson also appointed Sharma as his new Minister. The 52-year-old has a background in banking and was elected as Member of Parliament for Reading West in 2010 with reportedly one of the largest swings to the Conservatives in the country.
Born in India, Sharma moved to Reading in southern England when he was five years old. He has also held various roles as he was Prime Minister's infrastructure envoy to India in 2016 and a minister for housing in 2017. Back in 2019, he became the minister for international aid.
He is now the in-charge of the UK's climate strategy and has a tough role of bringing about global consensus on some contentious issue around greenhouse gas emissions at the summit in Glasgow. Sharma has also garnered praises from campaigners for his role at the Department for International Development. However, he will face an uphill task after nearly two weeks of trouble surrounding the post of COP 26 president.
According to international media reports, Sharma's new role was previously turned down by former Prime Minister David Cameron as he had said that he believed that a member of the cabinet should take on the role. Sharma's previous position as Secretary State for International Development has also seen good grounding for the COP26 charge. He has also used his role as in charge of Department for International Development (DfID) to promote action on the climate crisis, by assisting developing countries to improve their resilience to the impacts of extreme weather, and tackling issues such as deforestation and clean energy.
Johnson was aiming to tighten his grip on the government after winning a big parliamentary majority in December’s election. That victory allowed Johnson to take Britain out of the European Union last month, delivering on his key election promise. In other developments, Priti Patel remained as the Secretary of State for the Home Department whereas Rishi Sunak was appointed as the Treasury Chief. Sunak is the son-in-law Of Narayana Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys.