Protecting the Rainforests: Sending out an SOS on behalf of the world's tropical forests

As all eyes turn toward the UN's Climate Week and G20 summit, now is a good time to focus on the international impacts of climate change and the actions we all can take to stop the further deterioration of our planet.

One such action is to lend your voice to an international effort to protect the rainforests.

NRDC has partnered with the Prince's Rainforests Project - an initiative created by Britain's Prince Charles to support the development of an emergency package to curb deforestation and help spread the word on the connection between tropical deforestation and climate change.

Prince Charles, a dedicated environmentalist, has recruited famous faces and influential leaders including the Dalai Lama, Michael Dell, Daniel Craig, Eric Schmidt of Google, Harrison Ford, Russ Mittermeier, Pele, and Princes William and Harry to educate the public on the connection between rainforests and Climate Change. And just recently, I participated in the effort alongside NRDC president Frances Beinecke.

You too can lend your voice to the cause by making your own frog video right on the site; post it to social networking sites, and send to friends and family. We urge you to take minute to sign up and here's why:

Curbing tropical deforestation is vital in order to mitigate climate change. Tropical forests act as carbon sinks, sequestering approximately 20% of greenhouse gas emissions internationally.  In addition, tropical deforestation occurs on such a grand scale that it accounts for about 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide - that's more than the entire international transportation sector (all of the planes, trucks, cars, and ships combined). 

The 2007 UNFCCC Bali Action plan included language addressing policy approaches and positive incentives to protect forests; and this year's climate negotiations will consider plans for a scheme known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).  REDD aims to reduce deforestation and forest degradation through financial incentives. Unfortunately, developing and implementing REDD will not be simple and might take years to come into fruition as stakeholders iron out REDD's key questions and concerns.

In the interim, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN estimates that the world could lose over 100 million hectares of tropical forests over the next 10 years. Several observers including Norway's International Climate and Forests Initiative, Project Catalyst and the Prince's Rainforests Project, all developed proposals for emergency funding to curb deforestation as REDD comes into fruition.

In London in April of 2009, HRH The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) hosted a meeting of world leaders in order to discuss the need for immediate interim action. The result of this meeting was the formation of the Informal Working Group on Interim Financing for REDD (IWG-IFR), with Norway acting as the secretariat.  The IWG-IFR has met several times this year and will likely reach an agreement early 2010.

As negotiations continue, we at NRDC strongly encourage everyone to call upon world leaders to reach an agreement and sign up today to show support for emergency action to save the rainforests.