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‘No Drama Sharma’: Meet Alok Sharma, the Indian-born COP26 chief

Alok Sharma was hardly a family identify in Britain, not to mention the remainder of the world, when appointed to steer the UN local weather talks now reaching a climax in Glasgow.

However with the planet’s future at stake, the COP26 president has needed to emerge from the shadows to face in a blindingly vibrant highlight over the previous fortnight, attempting to reconcile seemingly irreconcilable calls for.

Reflecting on his personal position, the self-effacing former UK enterprise secretary mentioned on Thursday: “Individuals typically describe me as ‘No Drama Sharma’.”

The nickname is modelled on the previous US president, Barack Obama. However Sharma can have been hoping for a greater end result than “No Drama Obama”.

Then in his first 12 months within the White Home, the inexperienced Obama suffered an notorious bust-up with the Chinese language on the 2009 COP in Copenhagen.

Sharma actually lacks the vaulting oratory of Obama or his personal boss, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who appointed him to steer the COP26 course of alongside the UN in February 2020.

That got here simply because the coronavirus pandemic started to comb the world, however the 54-year-old politician has nonetheless saved up a gruelling globetrotting schedule within the months main as much as Glasgow.

Sharma has sought to forge private relations with smaller island states but additionally with extra influential economies by visiting China and his native nation of India — two of the largest holdouts towards an formidable deal.

He has received some reward from delegates for his balanced management.

But all alongside, Sharma has been dogged by criticism that Johnson ought to have appointed an even bigger hitter to the pivotal local weather job.

“I believe Alok Sharma has carried out positive, however I believe the broader UK authorities has been at fault as a result of I believe they did not embrace the seriousness of the diploma of issue early sufficient,” Britain’s former Labour chief Ed Miliband advised AFP.

Taking intention at Johnson instantly, he mentioned: “You may’t compensate in two weeks for not having carried out the work for 2 years.”

Sharma initially mixed the position of COP26 president with the place of Johnson’s cupboard secretary for enterprise, vitality and industrial technique.

The twin-hatted strategy attracted criticism that Johnson was not taking the COP course of critically sufficient, and Sharma ultimately took on that position full-time in January this 12 months.

Sharma was born within the Taj Mahal metropolis of Agra in 1967 and his dad and mom moved to Studying, a commuter-belt city west of London, 5 years later.

Like his higher recognized colleague, finance minister Rishi Sunak, Sharma has taken the MPs’ oath of allegiance over the Hindu Bhagavad Gita.

Johnny Luk, a Conservative activist of Chinese language heritage, recounted how he “acquired numerous racial abuse” when he stood unsuccessfully for parliament in 2019.

“Alok reached out personally to precise his help to me, which I care about deeply,” he advised The Day by day Telegraph when Sharma was made COP26 president.

“He is without doubt one of the nicest guys I do know in politics, he’s razor sharp, he cares about particular points, not simply soundbites,” Luk added.

There was little to recommend a future position as local weather guru in Sharma’s path from college at Salford, in northwest England, to his coaching as an accountant after which jobs in company finance.

Urged by his Swedish spouse to contemplate a profession in politics, he turned an MP for Johnson’s Conservatives in 2010, representing a seat in prosperous Studying.

Sharma held quite a lot of junior authorities positions earlier than being given the cabinet-level job of worldwide growth minister when Johnson took workplace in July 2019.

He was one of many few “Remainer” politicians saved on by Johnson, after campaigning for Britain to remain within the EU, however was judged as a secure pair of fingers and went on to remain true to the prime minister’s hardline imaginative and prescient of Brexit.

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