Last night (17 May) Sir Alok Sharma was awarded Fellowship of the Science Museum Group in recognition of his exceptional leadership as the President of COP26 in drawing attention to the urgent need to transition to a net-zero world.
Sharma was appointed President Designate of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in 2020, alongside his role as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In 2021, he took on the COP26 role full-time, leading the UK’s work in bringing together the world to tackle climate change and getting almost 200 countries to sign-up to the historic Glasgow Climate Pact.
In September 2022, Sharma addressed a cohort of 50 experts including policymakers, scientists and business leaders at an event jointly hosted by the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, at which he called for accelerated action to curb climate change and address ecosystem destruction. Sharma was knighted in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to tackling climate change.
The award was presented by Dame Mary Archer, Chair of Trustees of the Science Museum Group, at the 2023 Science Museum Group Annual Dinner.
On receiving the Fellowship Alok Sharma said: ‘I am honoured and humbled to be awarded this Fellowship and I want to thank the whole UK Government team which worked tirelessly over several years to deliver the Glasgow Climate Pact.
The commitments made by countries at COP26 allowed us to say with credibility that we had kept alive the prospect of limiting average global warming to 1.5 degrees.
However, as the World Meteorological Organisation report this week makes clear, the world is likely to breach the 1.5C climate threshold by 2027 and that is why world leaders must inject urgency in delivering on their climate commitments.’
Sharma joins an illustrious group of Fellows who have made major contributions through academic research, design, technology, and philanthropy.
Recent recipients include Professor Lord Stern – the academic, banker and economist – in recognition of his exceptional leadership of the science of climate change through his chairmanship of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment, and the late Dame Deborah James – the podcaster, campaigner and fundraiser – in recognition of all the cancer-related work she undertook following her diagnosis with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016.
The key-note speech at the dinner was delivered by Her Excellency Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, who led the UAE’s maiden interplanetary Hope mission to Mars in 2020, the first by an Arab country.
The Minister explained how images captured by the mission of the Mars moon Deimos suggest its composition is similar to that of Mars, supporting the theory that Deimous formed together with Mars rather than as an asteroid that was captured in the planet’s orbit.
At the heart of her speech was a call for increased international co-operation in all aspects of space exploration, not least in managing the dangerous increases in space debris.
Guests at the Annual Dinner included broadcaster Samira Ahmed, former Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Natural History Museum, Sir Patrick Vallance, Oxford Professors (and stars of the museum’s Injecting Hope exhibition) Dame Sarah Gilbert and Tess Lambe, and Nobel prize winner Professor Sir John Gurdon.