27 Jun 2009

US House passes landmark climate change bill

3:36 pm on 27 June 2009

The US House of Representatives passed legislation on Friday to slash industrial pollution that is blamed for global warming.

The House passed the climate change bill, a top priority for President Barack Obama, by a vote of 219-212. It still has to be passed by the US Senate before it can become law.

The bill requires that large US companies, including utilities, oil refiners, manufacturers and others, reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050, from 2005 levels.

They would do so by phasing in the use of cleaner alternative energy than high-polluting oil and coal.

At the core of the bill, which is around 1,500 pages long, is a "cap and trade" programme designed to achieve the emissions reductions by industry.

Under the plan, the government would issue a declining number of pollution permits to companies, which could sell those permits to each other as needed.

As has become routine on major bills in Congress this year, the vote was a partisan one, with only eight Republicans joining Democrats for the bill.

The Senate is expected to try to write its own version of a climate change bill, but prospects for this year were uncertain.