U.S. Marketers Join the Prince's Rainforests Project

Execs Get on Board to Urge People to Send Climate Change SOS

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U.S. marketers are getting involved in the Prince's Rainforests Project, an effort organized by the U.K.'s Prince Charles to save the world's remaining rain forests. The project recently debuted a "Rainforest SOS" campaign to draw attention and support for preserving the world's rain forests by sending out the world's biggest SOS before the U.N.'s international climate change meetings in Copenhagen in December.

More than 100 businesses and nongovernemental organizations in the U.S. have signed on to the project, including 40 to 50 of the Fortune 500, according to Michelle Roos, U.S. campaign director for the Prince's Rainforests Project. The goal is to encourage people around the world to send a "Rainforest SOS" message.

According to the Prince's Rainforests Project, one-third of the world's rain forests have been destroyed in the last 50 years. While deforestation continues to destroy less than 1% of the rain forests a year -- almost 15 million acres -- the project says that it's believed that after the loss of 30% to 40%, the remaining forest will become destabilized and collapse.

"Seventeen percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the destruction of the rain forest," Ms. Roos says. "That's more than the international transportation system combined. Without action on rain forests, we're in serious trouble."

Companies such as AOL, Coca-Cola USA, Google and McDonald's Corp. have been getting involved in a variety of ways. For instance, some top executives, such as Dell Chairman-CEO Michael Dell and Boeing Corp. CEO Jim McNerney, have joined Sting and other celebrities and executives in creating "Rainforest SOS" videos that feature supporters sending personalized messages while holding the campaign's symbol, a virtual frog.

At the same time, Sony co-hosted a photography contest with the Prince's Rainforest Project, while Virgin Media offered two free tickets to a concert for signing on to the Prince's Rainforests Project. Whole Foods Market has committed to twittering to approximately 200,000 followers, while Seventh Generation is sending project information in its newsletter to more than 300,000 customers. And Johnson & Johnson used its employee sustainability blog to educate staffers about the project and encourage sign-ups.

"This is a way to reach a large number of people who may look to their employers for their leadership," Ms. Roos says. "I think a lot of people do care about climate change, and watching their company take leadership is a way for them to step up and sign on."