BRUSSELS (AP) -- European Union governments can and should step up cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions because the economic recession has already made significant reductions for them, according to research commissioned by the European Green lawmakers.
A report released Monday by environmental consultancy CE Delft says the EU could easily increase its target to cut carbon dioxide emissions from 20 percent by 2020 to at least 30 percent -- and that it should be aiming for 40 percent to hold back global warming.
Sharp falls in manufacturing and power consumption caused by the economic downturn will account for about a third of the EU's planned reduction, it said.
"The economic crisis will already do the job," Sander de Bruyn, one of the CE Delft researchers said. "We should now adopt the minus 30 percent goal."
The report says the European Union isn't doing as much as it likes to claim because companies and governments plan to make up another third of the reduction target by buying carbon offsets that cancel their emissions by paying for environmental programs in developing nations.
It also said the EU should go further than other regions because it has done more to cause global warming for longer, since the start of the industrial revolution in the 18th century.
A panel of U.N. scientists has recommended that developed countries make cuts of between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020 below 1990 levels to avoid a catastrophic rise in sea levels, harsher storms and droughts and climate disruptions.