COP26, the International Conference on Climate Change, opens this Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. Much awaited by many countries, but especially by environmental protection associations, COP26 is headed by the British, Alok Sharma, who is not necessarily known for his environmental commitments.
Born in India in 1967, Alok Sharma lived in the south of England from an early age. He began his professional career in the banking sector, before entering politics as a member of the British Parliament. He was elected Conservative MP in the Reading West constituency (west London) in 2010 and was Vice-President of the British Conservative Party from 2012 to 2015, then Prime Minister’s envoy to India in 2016.
With the Conservatives coming to power in 2016 following the Brexit vote and the appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Alok Sharma rose to senior positions in the government, and was appointed under-secretary of state for foreign affairs in particular. and Commonwealth Office in 2016, then Minister of Housing and Planning in 2017.
In 2019, Alok Sharma became close to Boris Johnson, the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party and hence became the new Prime Minister. The politician was then appointed Secretary of State for International Development in July 2019, then Minister of Trade, Energy and Clean Development, as part of a reshuffle driven by Boris Johnson, less than two weeks after Brexit on January 31, 2020. Was.
Few votes for climate in parliament
On January 8, 2021, barely a few months before the big international meeting, Alok Sharma was appointed chairman of COP26, thus replacing former Energy Minister Claire O’Neill, who had been sacked by Boris Johnson for this role. was appointed to the post. six months later. Some sources suggested to the British press that the latter was changed because the British government wanted to prioritize diplomacy and international dialogue, and eventually found Alok Sharma more competent in these areas. Note that former Prime Minister David Cameron had refused the position before it was presented to the elected representative of Reading West.
The latter appointment as president of COP26, according to environmental NGOs, comes “late in the process”, as he has only to oversee the organization of international summits and to prepare for talks between some 200 heads of state. It was a few months. . Especially since Alok Sharma is known for his commitments to the environment: According to the British site They Work for You, which analyzes the status of elected officials in Great Britain, Alok Sharma has advocated legislation aimed at combating climate change. Generally voted against. Parliament. He specifically defended the United Kingdom’s controversial plan to authorize new exploration of gas and oil fields, and was criticized by the British press for visiting nearly thirty countries in seven months this year, in full pandemic, and by plane. was chosen the most. Time.
COP26 has high hopes
Since his appointment, Alok Sharma has however taken his role to heart, with the ambition to revise the commitments made in Paris in 2015 during COP26 at COP21. At the beginning of the meeting in September, he said, “The recent IPCC report explains why the COP should take place on 26 November, to encourage world leaders to unite and establish decisive commitments to combat climate change.” to be permitted.”
In fact, the UN climate experts’ report published in August is, in the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a “red alert for humanity” as a whole. The researchers specifically confirmed that the critical threshold of +1.5 °C warming compared to the pre-industrial era will be reached around 2030, ten years earlier than previous estimates.
Faced with this observation, expectations weighing on COP26 are dependent on the climate emergency, so much so that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not seem very optimistic. “I am very worried, because it could be wrong,” he said less than a week before the summit opened. We may not have the agreements we need. Alok Sharma said it would be “more difficult” to reach an agreement in Glasgow than in Paris.
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