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House passes landmark climate-change bill

After hours of bitter debate, the US House of Representatives narrowly passed critical legislation on carbon emissions linked to climate change. US President Barack Obama hailed the passage as a “bold and necessary step”.

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AFP - The US House of Representatives on Friday narrowly passed historic legislation to cut carbon emissions blamed for climate change, handing President Barack Obama a hard-fought victory.

After hours of bitter debate, lawmakers voted 219-212 to put the US economy under a "cap-and-trade" system in a move supporters said would restore shaky US leadership on the issue of global warming.

The pitched political battle on how best to address the problem now shifts to the US Senate, which is not expected to take any major steps before a self-imposed mid-September deadline for laying out legislation.

The House's "American Clean Energy and Security Act" aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050, create "green" jobs and wean the US economy from oil imports.

"Just remember these four words for what this legislation means -- jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Let's vote for jobs," Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi exhorted her colleagues minutes before the vote.

Her comments came after Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, relying on traditional House perks for party leaders, stretched an allotted two minutes to speak about the measure into a one-hour, one-minute intervention.

The 1,200-page bill, the fruit of months of tough negotiations, would create a "cap-and-trade" system limiting overall pollution from large industrial sources and then allocating and selling pollution permits.

The Democratic-crafted bill would require utilities, by 2020, to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable resources -- solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass -- and show annual energy savings of five percent from efficiency measures.

The European Union plan calls for getting 20 percent of all electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

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