Any strategy to fight climate change that does not make the preservation of the world’s rainforests its priority is doomed to fail, the Prince of Wales warned at the St Jame’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium saying that as deforestation releases a fifth of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and that tropical rainforests provide a vast carbon sink that absorbs greenhouse gases. The Princes said that rainforest protection would be critical to addressing food security, energy security and economic security, and was inextricably linked to sustainable economic development and that it must be a key item at the Copenhagen
”Solving climate change is a precondition to ensuring security, and without adequately addressing tropical deforestation we cannot have an answer to climate change” the Prince said. “It is that simple: saving the rainforests is not an option, it is actually an absolute necessity” adding that as that 20 billion tonnes of water evaporated every day from the forests of the Amazon basin alone “Deforestation obviously reduces this amount, so decreasing subsequent rainfall in the rainforests, but also, it increasingly appears, changing precipitation patterns across the world and contributing to food shortages.” The Prince said that the world needed to place an economic value on “ecosystem services” of this sort, particularly those provided by rainforests, to provide stronger incentives for their protection. He added: “I simply cannot understand, in my own simple way, how you can sustain the idea of capitalism, as we have come to know it, without capital — nature’s capital.” The Prince’s remarks were supported by Lord Stern who said “We cannot separate climate change and deforestation from development,” he said. A third of the world’s tropical forests had been cleared in the past 50 years and an estimated 15 million hectares (55,000 sq miles) were being lost every year – an area the size of the UK. Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, told the symposium that deforestation is responsible for more emissions than all the world’s cars, lorries, trains and planes. If developed countries decarbonise only themselves, without helping the poorest countries, “then we won’t succeed”.
The Symposium also heard that the world has only six years to radically cut carbon emissions if it is to stand a chance of preventing serious and dangerous global warming. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Institute said that global warming represented a threat of similar proportions to the cold war and that it should be addressed in a similar manner. And the symposium hard of another new report from the world Humanitarian Organisation which showed that 300,000 people a year are already dying because of the effects of global warming – mostly because of gradual environmental degradation leading to a spread in malaria, malnutrition and diarrhoea with 10% of the total number dying from weather related disasters such as floods. The Symposium has issued a Memorandum calling for emergency financial support for nations which are home to tropical rain forests as well as a global deal on climate change that matches the scale and urgency of the human, ecological and economic crisis facing the world. It urges governments at all levels as well as the scientific community to join with civic and business communities and “seize hold of this historic opportunity to transform our carbon-intensive economies into sustainable and equitable systems”.
You can contribute to planting the new FESTIVAL WOOD in the UK by texting 82540 with the word FESTIVAL (£3 will be deducted) or GREENER (£5 will be deducted and you will be planting two trees).