May 26, 2010 / 11:11 AM / 8 years ago

EU details cost of making deeper CO2 cuts

* Hedegaard says 30 pct CO2 cut would cost 81 bln euros a yr

* Recession made current 20 pct goal 22 bln euros cheaper

* Green groups and industry battle over the implications

By Pete Harrison

BRUSSELS, May 26 (Reuters) - Europe’s climate chief presented an analysis of the risks and rewards of deepening cuts in harmful emissions on Wednesday, causing new quarrels between industry and environmentalists.

The cost of reducing the European Union’s climate-warming emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels is now estimated at 81 billion euros ($99.5 billion) each year by 2020.

The global economic crisis has helped bring the cost of meeting the current 20 percent target down to 48 billion euros a year, compared to 70 billion when the goal was set two years ago.

Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard issued what amounted to a cost-benefit analysis of deepening cuts to carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for climate change, although there is little prospect of such moves happening soon.

The EU says it will deepen cuts in climate-warming emissions only if other countries follow suit, and deep divisions are hampering United Nations climate talks taking place this year.

European industrial leaders suspect Hedegaard is starting a campaign for 30 percent curbs and has reacted defensively, saying any such move is unthinkable as Europe struggles with mounting debts and widespread unemployment.

“Obviously the immediate political priority is to handle the crisis,” Hedegaard said in a statement. “The decision is not for now, but I hope that our analysis will inspire the debate.”

The debate is already becoming heated.

“We see this as a fanatical fixation with numerical targets,” said Gordon Moffat, director general of steel industry group Eurofer.

“Industry has suffered in the recession, and it is absurd to say industry would therefore find it easier to meet the target ... There would be a loss of jobs and a movement of manufacturing outside Europe.”

Greenpeace campaigner Joris den Blanken said Hedegaard’s report showed the opposite was true.

“With a stronger climate target, companies would stop profiting from pollution and start gaining from green growth,” he said.

Editing by Timothy Heritage

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