By Alysha Love
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A group of 72 businesses, including household names such as Coca-Cola and Google, joined forces on Wednesday in support of deeper European cuts to greenhouse gases.
They signed a declaration calling for the European Union to extend to 30 percent its planned emissions cuts, which are now targeted at 20 percent below 1990 levels by the end of this decade.
The new goal could reduce the cost of oil and gas imports by 45.5 billion euros ($65.4 billion) by 2020, the group said in a statement.
The companies represent a wide range of sectors and include energy suppliers such as Britain's Centrica and Denmark's DONG Energy as well as retailers such as ASDA, Carrefour and Sweden's
Manufacturers such as Sony Europe and Nike were also on the list, the strongest call yet for more ambitious climate targets to encourage investment in green technology.
"The current framework does not properly incentiviseincentivize renewable energy," said Anders Eldrup, chief executive of DONG Energy. "This calls for a move to 30 percent emissions reduction by 2020."
Europe is still a long way off any political move to deepen emissions cuts, but EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard will next month launch an analysis of the investments needed and the benefits of doing so.
"It will confirm... that it is possible and doable to deliver on ambitious targets," Hedegaard told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. "But the cost-efficient potential is spread very unevenly across the 27 member states."
The companies' statement contrasts sharply with opposition to the EU's green strategy from heavy industry.
Heavy energy users, such as the steel, cement and aluminum industries, argue that stricter emissions cuts give a competitive advantage to less-regulated rivals overseas.
These industries also say the economic crisis has left many companies too weak to further reduce their carbon emissions.
(Additional reporting by Pete Harrison, editing by Anthony Barker)