House passes bill to keep US in Paris climate accord

Students take part in a protest against climate change in Hong Kong as part of a global movement called #FridaysForFuture. (Anthony Wallace, AFP)
Students take part in a protest against climate change in Hong Kong as part of a global movement called #FridaysForFuture. (Anthony Wallace, AFP)

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation that would prevent US President Donald Trump from following through on his withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

The Republican-led Senate is highly unlikely to take up the measure, which would bar federal funds from being used to withdraw from the accord.

But the move by House Democrats appears aimed at framing the president as opposed to fighting global warming.

Trump announced in mid-2017 that he was pulling out of the accord, arguing it imposed unfair environmental standards on US firms and government, and that remaining in the deal would pose a threat to the American economy.

The earliest possible exit would be November 2020, the month of the US presidential election, positioning climate action as a campaign issue.

The House voted 231 to 190 to pass the Climate Action Now Act, with three Republicans crossing the political aisle to vote with Democrats.

'Dead on arrival'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described climate action as a moral, economic and national security "imperative", and said the bill was a step in the right direction.

"It sends a signal to the world that the US isn't in denial about the overwhelming science about climate," she said on the House floor.

But Pelosi acknowledged the bill would be "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

The measure would compel the president to develop a plan for meeting US obligations under the Paris agreement, which include cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Trump, who made withdrawal from the Paris deal a 2016 campaign pledge, has complained that other countries in the pact like China were being asked to do less.

Last year, US government scientists issued a 1 000-page report warning that climate change will cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars annually unless drastic action is taken to cut carbon emissions.

Earlier this year, Democratic lawmakers unveiled an ambitious Green New Deal, which calls for dramatic steps to address climate change.

Trump has repeatedly mocked the framework, in particular its call for massive boosts in the use of renewable energy.

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