May I just start by thanking you very much indeed for taking the time to come here this evening.
I would also like, if I may, to thank the National Geographic Store for letting us come here and cause so much disruption. It is all in a good cause, I can assure you! It has been very kind of them to do this.
Two years ago I established my Rainforests Project because I realized, after talking to various deeply concerned experts, that halting deforestation was one of the quickest, and cheapest, ways to start protecting our planet from Climate Change.
You may wonder how climate change and the rainforests are connected…
In essence, Rainforests help keep our climate cool, and absorb nearly a sixth of our CO2 emissions. Yet they are being destroyed at the rate of a football pitch every four seconds. To make matters worse, in addition to removing the trees’ absorption capability this destruction releases hundreds of years of stored carbon into the atmosphere and is a key contributor to climate change. Carbon emissions from deforestation are greater, and this is the point, than all emissions from worldwide transport (cars, aircraft and ships) put together. Most critically, the rainforests also help provide the oxygen that we breathe and the vital rainfall that waters our crops to feed the whole world.
Now, why are they cut down? Often because Rainforest Nations, quite understandably, need to exploit their economic value: to sell the high-quality timber and to farm on the fertile land where the trees once stood; but this has an increasingly devastating effect on the stability of the world’s climate, let alone on the biodiversity that is absolutely essential to human existence on this planet. My Rainforests Project has been working to try and find ways to ensure the trees become more valuable alive than dead, rather than the other way round, so that there is no incentive to cut them down. Following exhaustive consultation with the private, public and N.G.O. sectors over the past eighteen months, and working with experts in the various relevant fields, we have been attempting to develop a solution.
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, you are about to see the first-ever screening of our short Sign Up Campaign Video. It features a number of supporters and our aim, with your help, if I may say so, is to build an online community to call, from the bottom up, for urgent action to protect the Rainforests, by the time the world’s leaders gather together in Copenhagen in December for crucially important climate change discussions. If we fail to save the Rainforests we will most certainly lose the battle against catastrophic Climate Change and I cannot emphasize this more strongly.
You will see that the star of the film is a small but important character, a frog – in this case, a rainforest frog, in fact it’s not that small! As you may be aware, Princes and frogs have had a long association! However, our frog has come to symbolize something new. Our frog is a symbol for the world’s rainforests; a symbol of urgent action against climate change.
Two months ago I was in Brazil, visiting the Rainforests. I warned then that, according to the scientists, we had less than 100 months to bring global carbon emissions under control. Now, we have just 98 months, and with every week that doomsday countdown continues.
So Ladies and Gentlemen, my message to you, therefore, is quite simple – saving the rainforests can help save us all… before it really is too late. Thank you.