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Alok Sharma offers to quit as business secretary to head climate summit

·3-min read
Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma takes part in a virtual press conference on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK inside 10 Downing Street in central London on November 12, 2020. (Photo by Leon Neal / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LEON NEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sharma told UK prime minister Boris Johnson that he would rather give up his position as business secretary than leave his role in climate change envoy. Photo: Leon Neal/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Alok Sharma has offered to resign from his role as UK business minister in order to lead the United Nations COP26 climate change summit, it has been revealed.

The Times reported on Saturday that Sharma, who is also president of this year’s climate summit, told UK prime minister Boris Johnson that he would rather give up his position as business secretary than leave his role in climate change envoy.

If the move goes ahead it will force Downing Street into a mini reshuffle — one suggestion is that Sharma could be replaced by Sajid Javid, the former chancellor who has been tipped for a return to the government, the newspaper said.

The COP26 conference, which is being held in Glasgow between 1 and 12 November, will be hosted by Britain, with dozens of world leaders in attendance.

It was originally scheduled for November 2020 but was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be the largest summit that the UK has ever chaired and has been described as the most significant climate event since the global Paris Agreement was secured in 2015.

Britain has vowed to cut emissions by 68% of its 1990 levels by 2030.

The news comes after Britain's former climate secretary Amber Rudd said the presidency of the climate conference is so critical it must become a full-time role.

"I do know that this requires 100% commitment from somebody who does nothing else,” she said last month.

She added: “My own view is that whoever is the president of the COP - and Alok absolutely could do a great job at this - should be doing nothing else. This is not a side hustle, it's the most important event taking place next year. We can't afford to make this a part-time job.

READ MORE: Companies with green ambitions unveiled as COP26 climate summit sponsors

In December, Johnson’s office denied a report that he wanted his predecessor David Cameron to take over from Sharma as president of the summit.

Downing Street is also understood to have offered the position to William Hague, who declined the role, the Times said, while internal discussions were held on whether to offer the job to Theresa May.

Sharma has previously said: “We are working with our international partners on an ambitious roadmap for global climate action between now and November 2021.

"The steps we take to rebuild our economies will have a profound impact on our societies' future sustainability, resilience and wellbeing and COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a clean resilient recovery.”

Yahoo Finance has reached out to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for comment on Sharma’s resignation offer.

Watch: COP26: Countries must commit to net zero as soon as possible

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