Arlington, Va. (Sept. 29 2020) – Conservation International’s Vice President of Climate Change Shyla Raghav issued the following statement at the close of New York Climate Week 2020:

“Last year, we followed Greta Thunberg’s emissions-free journey across the Atlantic and listened as she called for stronger government action to slow the climate crisis on the United Nations floor. This year, we had no choice but to join from our homes and engage with one another through screens because of a pandemic that emerged as a consequence of the intrusion of human activity into wild spaces. Climate Week 2020 may have looked different, but one question remained the same: Is it too late to act on the climate emergency? As climate week closes, my answer is also the same: it is absolutely not too late, but we need to act now.  

“The global community has moved past the point of raising awareness and is now moving on to the needed phase of action. We have the science and the knowledge to change the course of the climate crisis but to truly build a sustainable future, there must be action now – not commitments that extend far out in the future. And we need more big players at the table – the world’s policymakers and business leaders.

“The pandemic has given us the opportunity to rethink our priorities and the type of future we choose. It’s not a given that our future must resemble the past.

“The decisions that governments, corporations and we as individuals make today will have long-lasting impacts on the planet and humanity. I am encouraged by what I saw from global corporations. It is promising that even in the shadow of a pandemic and economic downfall, businesses are scaling up their investments in nature with many pledging to be carbon neutral in the coming decades.

“It is becoming unacceptable not to have a plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Three years ago, when President Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Agreement, it became clear that businesses, state governments and people from all walks of life said, “we’re still in.” This continues to give me hope and energy, even during a year that has been incredibly challenging. The climate commitments we’ve seen going into and during Climate Week show me that this resolve remains strong. There is a new trend, a trend that is starting to prioritize nature and the benefits it brings to humanity.

“Moving forward we must see more corporations and government leaders step up and invest in nature-based solutions that provide immediate emissions reduction – reductions we need to make now, to reach those 2030, 2040, 2050 targets. Also, individuals must speak up – and show our leaders that we’re holding them accountable for climate action. And, in the United States, individuals must vote.

“Most of all, we must listen to the Indigenous peoples, people of color, and too long-marginalized groups that are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. We will not be able to solve the climate crisis without also addressing the injustices within our society. These communities are often the most knowledgeable when it comes to conserving nature and managing our natural resources.

“We need to work together to form a more inclusive, just society that will benefit the climate, our economies, our generation and those after us.”

About Conservation International

Conservation International works to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through science, partnerships and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic development that is grounded in the conservation of nature. Conservation International works in 30 countries around the world, empowering societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet. Follow Conservation International’s work on Conservation News, Facebook