Following an intense occupation process that was initiated in the 1960s, deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon have decreased significantly since 2004, stabilizing around 6000 km2 yr−1 in the last 5 years. A convergence of conditions contributed to this, including the creation of protected areas, the use of effective monitoring systems, and credit restriction mechanisms. Nevertheless, other threats remain, including the rapidly expanding global markets for agricultural commodities, large‐scale transportation and energy infrastructure projects, and weak institutions. We propose three updated qualitative and quantitative land‐use scenarios for the Brazilian Amazon, including a normative ‘Sustainability’ scenario in which we envision major socio‐economic, institutional, and environmental achievements in the region. We developed an innovative spatially explicit modelling approach capable of representing alternative pathways of the clear‐cut deforestation, secondary vegetation dynamics, and the old‐growth forest degradation. We use the computational models to estimate net deforestation‐driven carbon emissions for the different scenarios. The region would become a sink of carbon after 2020 in a scenario of residual deforestation (~1000 km2 yr−1) and a change in the current dynamics of the secondary vegetation – in a forest transition scenario. However, our results also show that the continuation of the current situation of relatively low deforestation rates and short life cycle of the secondary vegetation would maintain the region as a source of CO2 – even if a large portion of the deforested area is covered by secondary vegetation. In relation to the old‐growth forest degradation process, we estimated average gross emission corresponding to 47% of the clear‐cut deforestation from 2007 to 2013 (using the DEGRAD system data), although the aggregate effects of the postdisturbance regeneration can partially offset these emissions. Both processes (secondary vegetation and forest degradation) need to be better understood as they potentially will play a decisive role in the future regional carbon balance.