Europe's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard is to set out the case for a unilateral 30% EU cut in CO2
At the end of May she will unveil research examining the consequences to Europe's economy of outdoing the current 20% target.
She said no position had been taken by Europe on a new unilateral target. But she warned the fall in CO2 during the recession meant a 20% cut would not drive the clean energy innovation Europe needed.
She said China was investing almost 10 times as much as the EU in plans for a low-carbon economy.
"Europe risks being left behind," she said at a lecture in London organised by the International Institute for Environment and Development.
She said that due to the recession, it is now a third cheaper to achieve the 20% target than when it was agreed in 2007.
"For an extra 11bn Euros on the sum originally proposed, the EU can now make a 30% CO2 cut [by 2020, based on 1990 levels]" she said. Her paper will examine the costs and benefits of such a proposal.
"She said it would include benefits like cleaning up local air pollution and energy security - and, crucially, the stimulus it would give to low-carbon innovation in Europe.
Ms Hedegaard said a new stimulus was desperately needed. She warned that so many carbon permits had been held unused in the EU, and so many credits were available on the carbon market that firms could carry on with business as usual for the foreseeable future.
The EU needed to do something to drive up the carbon price in order to drive invention, she said.
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