Fiona Harvey Saving the rainforest, one frog at a time

A frog turns to a prince – that’s not news. A prince turns to a frog? No, that’s not news either.

But it is the plot of the latest film starring Daniel Craig. And Harrison Ford. And Robin Williams. And Prince William and Prince Harry. And Prince Charles. And the Dalai Lama.

The actors, royals and leader of the Tibetan government in exile explain why we need to keep the rainforests intact, in each scene accompanied by a large frog. (Some have suggested it looks more like a toad, but it seems it has been positively identified as an Argentinian horned frog.)

This unlikely assemblage has been drawn together by the Prince’s Rainforests Project. The organisation is attempting to halt the deforestation of rainforests around the world. Earlier this year, Prince Charles made an extensive visit to the Amazon to highlight the problem.

Prince Charles has long used his position of prominence in the UK, and internationally to campaign on environmental issues. Rainforests have been a key part of that for years, but the Prince has in recent months stepped up his efforts considerably. Last year he called together a group of prominent financiers from the City of London, led by the former Man Group chief executive Stanley Fink, to discuss ways in which to encourage business to protect the rainforests, for instance through a new financing mechanism. The group has not yet come up with a final answer.

As the Prince explains, if we fail to stop deforestation we have no chance of tackling climate change. That’s not just his view – Nicholas Stern explains in great detail in the Stern Review of climate change why deforestation, which accounts for 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, is a very bad idea.

Now that the Prince has weighed in with such a public campaign, perhaps the world will take notice. Perhaps. Saving the rainforests is essential to rescuing the planet from global warming, but as yet we have failed as a world to come up with any credible way of doing so. People cut down rainforest either because they can make big profits from doing so – loggers, ranchers and growers of soya for huge multinational agribusinesses – or because they are extremely poor and need to find ways for their families to eat. The only way to stop them is to give them something else to do and another way of ensuring their survival. That appears to be beyond our capabilities.