Greece's Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili has joined six of her European Union counterparts in calling for a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020, instead of the current European target of 20 percent. The move would not only protect the environment but also create jobs and help protect Europe from future spikes in the price of oil, the ministers said.

The proposal was made in a letter sent by the seven European environment ministers to the European Commission on Sunday, one day before the environment ministers' council in Brussels.

The ministers signing the letter consider the revised target necessary in order to ensure meeting an 80 percent emissions reduction target by the middle of the century, so that the EU becomes a leader in the effort to transition to a low carbon economy.

In a study released last May, the European Commission said that raising the climate target to 30 percent by 2020 was technically feasible because of the economic downturn, which had driven down the cost of implementing the 20 percent target to 48 billion euro a year by 2020, instead of initial estimates of 70 billion euro a year.

A recently released study by the German environment ministry, meanwhile, said that raising the target would help boost growth in Europe by 0.6 percent a year and create six million new jobs.

Joining the call for deeper emissions cuts were the environment ministers of Britain, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Portugal and Sweden.