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Agro-Environmental Protocol: 62.5 Million Tons of CO2 will be Avoided

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São Paulo (November 26, 2009)The reduction of sugarcane straw burning and cogeneration in mills in the state of São Paulo, on top of the recovery of riparian forests, will avoid the emission of 62.5 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2017. The figure was announced this Wednesday (11/26) during an event organized by the Secretariats of Environment and Agriculture of the state of São Paulo and the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) to present accomplishments of the Agro-environmental Protocol for the Sugar and Ethanol Sector.

The Agro-environmental Protocol establishes certain commitments and technical policies, such as the early phaseout of sugarcane pre-harvest field burning, 2014 for mechanized areas and 2017 for non-mechanized areas. During the event, UNICA informed that by December of 2017, the just elimination of straw burning will avoid the emission of 8.5 million tons of CO2 in this 10 year period.

“We have transformed smoke and soot into green energy. Calculations presented in the Protocol are extremely important; the end of straw burning use will immensely contribute with emission reduction indexes that Brazil will present at COP-15, in Denmark. This initiative represents, over the program’s two years of existence, benefits not only for the state of São Paulo, but for the Brazilian society as a whole,” observed Marcos Jank, UNICA’s President & CEO.

According to Xico Graziano, São Paulo’s Secretary of Environment, “the Protocol is an important accomplishment achieved by the sector: an environmental discourse with concrete results.” Nonetheless, Secretary of Agriculture, João Sampaio, highlighted that the Protocol “represents a new model for government and private sector collaboration.” He added, “because of this successful partnership with UNICA, in the future we might work together once again on a tax pact for the sector.”

Enrollment and next steps

UNICA’s President mentioned during his presentation that 85% of producers in the state have already committed to meet agro-environmental goals established by the Protocol. Mechanized areas in the state jumped from 34.1% in 2007 to 53.8% during the 2009-10 harvest. This means that over half of the harvest is not using straw burning technique to harvest.

Jank also informed next steps within the Protocol. Among them are:

  • Promote research for cane straw energy use.
  • Incentives for adequate transition from burnt cane harvest to raw cane harvest, especially for small and medium-sized cane suppliers with areas of up to 150 hectares.
  • Intensified participation in labor requalification programs.
  • Compensation for environmental services: preservation of water resources and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, along with the Climate Change Plan for the state of São Paulo.

Media Contact

Ana Carolina Lessa
Public Affairs, North America
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