LONDON - The European Union can cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 at almost no cost, according to a report by climate consultancy firm Ecofys released on Wednesday.
EU leaders have a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. They have pledged to increase the target to 30 percent if other world leaders at a U.N. climate summit this December agree to join in.
By replacing all energy equipment at the end of its life with low-carbon technologies, the 27-nation bloc could halve its greenhouse gas emissions within two decades, the report found.
It comes the day before an EU summit starts in Brussels where EU leaders will discuss climate change.
The study, called Sectoral Emission Reduction Potentials and Economic Costs for Climate Change, examined 650 technologies over two years and compared their costs across 10 major sectors and EU countries.
These results show how the 30 percent emissions target is within reach, said Bart Wesselink, project manager at Ecofys.
The study used a cost curve calculating the rate at which technologies became cheaper over time, using discount rates of 4 percent and energy prices before taxation.
The report found that the overall costs to society of reaching the total reductions potential in 2030 are negligible or even negative.
It also found that sectors not currently included in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme including road transport, built environment, agriculture and waste could potentially reduce emissions in 2020 by 20 percent compared with 2005 levels and by 27 percent by 2030.
Out of the 27 member states, Britain, Germany and Ireland have the potential to achieve a 50 to 60 percent cut in emissions by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.
Romania, Latvia, Slovakia, Malta and Slovenia's potential was between a 10 percent rise and a 10 percent cut in emissions.