Brazil must save forests in ethanol push: Clinton

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil should worry about ways of stopping and controlling deforestation in order to achieve a broader global market for its cane-based ethanol, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Monday.

Clinton said the world is already aware of the fuel’s benefits, such as its 90-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to gasoline. But if Brazil starts exporting large amounts of ethanol it must be prepared to impede ranchers and farmers from cutting further into forests.

“What people are worried about Brazil is not (whether) you have the most efficient biofuel in the world... everybody knows that is true,” Clinton said in a speech to businessmen, most of them from the ethanol sector, at a three-day Ethanol Summit.

“(But) the world would say if we let Brazil help us solve our problem at the price of more rainforest destruction, have we really gained anything? That’s what you have to answer.”

He said Brazil was efficient in energy production and distribution, with most of its energy matrix coming from renewable sources, but also said 75 percent of carbon gas emissions in the country come from deforestation and agriculture.

He said business people should support Brazil’s government in measures to protect the forest, adding that the current global model of economic development is unsustainable.

Clinton said countries would give incentives instead of barriers” over biofuel imports if Brazil manages to prove it “can help other people with their emission problems without making yours worse.”

Reporting by Inae Riveras and Roberto Samora; Editing by Christian Wiessner