BRAZIL (From news reports) -- The world's biggest wood-pulp producer says cutting down the Amazon makes no business sense.
While Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro defends opening up the world's largest rainforest to agriculture and mining, the head of Suzano SA said preserving the biome could earn the country $10 billion a year on the carbon credit market.
"It would be an incredible opportunity in the green carbon market if Brazil cut Amazon deforestation and burning to zero," Chief Executive Officer Walter Schalka said in an interview. "It's not a loan, or investment. It would be profit from carbon credit sales."
One of Brazil's most outspoken executives on the environment, Schalka makes the case for preservation at a time when the forest is being destroyed at the fastest pace in more than a decade amid looser rules and enforcement. In June, the first month of the dry season, fires rose to a 13-year high, National Institute for Space Research data show.
Still, tapping billions in carbon trading may have to wait. There's a gap in the system left by the transition to a global protocol to be designed by next year's climate conference in Glasgow, Schalka said. Once the new system is up and running, polluters will be able to buy credits from companies and nations that remove CO2.
For now, not even Suzano -- with its 2 million hectares (4.9 million acres) of forested land -- has been able to monetize the CO2 it removes in the fragmented market. Schalka will look to do so when the global system resumes.
About 40% of Suzano's land is native forest and the rest is mostly eucalyptus plantations, which is renewed and expanded through the planting of 450,000 trees a day.
The pulp giant aims to remove a net 40 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere through 2030. That could generate about 800 million euros ($900 million) for the company in the next 10 years based on price references from the Kyoto Protocol of 20 euros per ton of carbon removed.
"Forest destruction is by far the nation's largest source of CO2 emissions," he said. "By eliminating that, Brazil could assume a different role, leading a global movement toward a cleaner economy."