ATHENS, May 14 (Reuters) - The European Union will cut its carbon emissions in 2020 by a bigger margin than it has pledged it would under United Nation climate change treaties, the bloc's environment ministers were told in a meeting on Wednesday.
"Europe will be overachieving in 2020," Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency said after presenting his organisation's findings to ministers and European Commission officials in Athens.
The EU has unilaterally pledged under the U.N. Kyoto Protocol for Climate Change to reduce its emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
The bloc has already almost met that target and now expects to comfortably beat it by 2020. "For the year 2020, total emissions are projected to be 24.5 percent below base year levels," it said in a document submitted to the U.N. on April 30.
But EU member states remain split over how to meet an even more ambitious proposal from the European Commission to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent in 2030, the bloc's Greek EU Presidency said.
"There are three groups of member states," said Greek Energy and Environment Minister Yannis Maniatis. Some member states support the Commission's proposal while others hesitate to adopt any targets at all. A third group, including Greece, wants to go even further, Maniatis said.
The EU has pledged to agree on the 2030 targets and measures by October.
Scientists and environmental campaigners have urged the bloc to continue its leadership in tackling climate change to ensure global temperature rises are kept below the 2 degree Celsius level that U.N.-backed scientists say is needed to prevent a huge increase in droughts, flooding and rising sea levels. (Reporting by Harry Papachristou, Ben Garside and Alister Doyle, editing by David Evans)