Raising the European Union’s 2020 emission reduction target from 20% to 30% would be much less costly than was assumed in 2008, and the effort could be shared fairly among governments, according to a draft EU document.

The analysis could reignite the debate over whether the EU should boost its climate ambitions. The economic downturn has made emissions cuts easier to achieve but also has reduced the ability of governments and companies to make the necessary investments.

The EU currently has a binding target to reduce emissions 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. The idea of unilaterally pushing the level to 30% has been heavily debated, but a formal proposal in the European Parliament was defeated last year. The financial crisis has virtually guaranteed that the bloc will meet the 20% target, according to a European Commission Staff Working Paper – seen by EurActiv – and ensured that “the 30% reduction scenario has also become considerably less costly.”

But Working Paper says that the additional cost of going to 30%, previously estimated by the Commission at €33 billion, would hit poorer EU states in Central and Eastern Europe proportionally harder than those in the richer West.

Sources: Euractiv