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World leaders meet to discuss future of rainforests

World leaders met Wednesday to discuss the role rainforests can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The meeting was hosted by Prince Charles, whose Rainforests Project advocates rainforest conservation as a way to simultaneously fight climate change, maintain key ecological services, support rural communities, and preserve biodiversity. The Prince of Wales is pushing for a global climate framework that includes funding for to enable rainforest nations to reduce deforestation, a source of nearly a fifth of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

With world leaders in London for the G20 summit, Prince Charles took the opportunity to convene the meeting. Leaders included Taro Aso, Prime Minister of Japan; José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission; Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy; Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State for the United States; Samuel Hinds, Prime Minister of Guyana; Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the U.N.; Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; David Miliband, Foreign Secretary for the U.K.; Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia; Nicolas Sarkozy – President of France; Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia; and Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank; among others.

The group agreed to establish an expert-level international working group to examine proposals that would provide interim funding to help tropical forest countries launch forest conservation projects before other international financing mechanisms — like the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) initiative proposed by the U.N. — take effect.

“I believe that the consensus achieved at this meeting will enable the development of an approach to dealing with the issue of deforestation capable not only of easing the plight of millions of the poorest people on our planet but also of giving us that most elusive and precious gift in our fight against climate change, time,” said Prince Charles.

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