STATEMENT: Conservation International CEO on COP28, "No Time for Excuses or Delays"

November 28, 2023

ARLINGTON, Va. (Nov. 28, 2023) – Conservation International's CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan released the following statement today as world leaders begin to gather in Dubai for the 28th annual United Nations climate change summit, known as the Conference of the Parties (COP28):

"Eight years ago, an eleventh-hour agreement by 196 countries created a pathway to avoid total climate catastrophe. Though the Paris Agreement was momentous, the consensus was always fragile. After years of deadlock, every party agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions; however, to ease the financial burden on low-income countries, wealthy nations pledged to subsidize their green transitions and adaptations. They also formally recognized the importance of 'averting, minimizing, and addressing' loss and damage associated with climate change. On all three fronts, industrialized countries have been slow to deliver – and if progress does not accelerate at COP28, we run the risk of a diplomatic breakdown.

"The first ever Global Stocktake has revealed, unequivocally, that we are not decarbonizing fast enough. More than any other COP in recent memory, the fossil fuel industry has a seat at the table – and we have no time for excuses, delays, or half-solutions. We must leave Dubai with a clear roadmap for halving emissions by 2030, a plan to mobilize trillions of dollars for clean energy, and an explicit mandate to incorporate nature into national climate strategies. 

"There will be no stable climate unless we end the destruction of nature. Emissions from land – from agriculture, grazing, poor forestry practices, and other forms of land degradation – make up one quarter of annual emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) affirms that those emissions must reach net zero by the end of this decade, faster than any other sector. COP28 must end with commitments to reverse deforestation by 2030, transition to sustainable food systems, and equitably conserve at least 30 percent of the world’s land and water. Natural climate solutions currently face the largest funding shortfall of any sector – a shortfall that could easily be closed by redirecting the $1.8 trillion in subsidies handed out to destructive industries each year.

"It is also time for the wealthiest, highest-emitting countries to make good on their pledge to support the frontline communities already bearing the cost of others’ inaction. In recent weeks, we have seen incremental progress toward the creation of a global Loss and Damage Fund – but even so, it is still an empty checking account. COP28 must end with hard financial commitments, not just another call for 'continued dialogue.' Dialogue alone will not prevent crops from withering. It will not protect coastal communities from inundating tides. It will not make whole the families forced to flee the only home they’ve ever known. This year, we must do better than talk. To bring about the future we desire – instead of the one we dread – we need COP28 to be about action."


About Conservation International: Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, for biodiversity and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples and local communities to help people and nature thrive together. Go to for more, and follow our work on Conservation NewsFacebookTwitterTikTokInstagram and YouTube.