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Sharma takes the reins on COP26 preparations

12 January 2021: Alok Sharma has left the position of business secretary to concentrate full time on preparations for November’s UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, with Kwasi Kwarteng stepping in to take the business brief.

For the past 11 months, ICAEW member Sharma has combined the roles of COP26 president and business secretary. However, his move to solely focus on conference preparations is seen as an acknowledgement of its strategic importance to the UK government.

Despite being postponed for a year due to COVID-19, the Glasgow summit is predicted to be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, with 30,000 high-profile attendees from around the world expected to attend. 

It is billed as the most important climate summit since the landmark Paris Agreement was agreed at COP21 in 2015, and the first Conference of Parties (COP) to take place after the Paris summit’s measures take effect. Nations are expected to come together to review commitments and strengthen ambition.

In a statement, 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."

Following Sharma’s move, fellow ICAEW member Anne-Marie Trevelyan will become Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, taking on climate and energy policy and implementing the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution.

She 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.

ICAEW Chief Executive Michael Izza said he was “delighted” to see ICAEW member Alok Sharma appointed as full-time President of COP26 and Anne-Marie Trevelyan take on the UK energy portfolio for BEIS. 

“Chartered accountants are at the heart of delivering sustainable growth and tackling climate change,” commented Izza.

Are you professionally ready to mitigate the risk and maximise the opportunity of climate change? Find resources, information and inspiration on the ICAEW Climate Hub.