Democrats aim for climate bill by early 2010

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:27pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democrats will attempt to pass a climate-change bill in "early spring" of 2010, Senator John Kerry told reporters on Monday, further complicating prospects for an international summit on global warming next month.

Many countries are looking to Washington to take a lead in the drive for an international agreement but this depends on action in Congress. The House (of Representatives) has passed a bill already but the issue is moving slowly in the Senate.

Kerry said Democrats would try to pass a bill to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions early in the year after approving legislation to revamp the U.S. healthcare system and financial industry, all major priorities of President Barack Obama.

Kerry spoke to reporters after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and chairmen of committees that have oversight of the climate change legislation.

Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is leading Senate negotiations on a compromise bill to tackle global warming, said he and other Democrats were working toward "trying to see if we can get this to the (Senate) floor sometime in the early spring, as early as possible."

Last week, Kerry had said he hoped the outlines of a compromise climate bill could be sketched out before the December 7-18 global warming summit in Copenhagen that will be attended by some 190 countries.

But when asked about the likelihood of that happening, Kerry on Monday would not commit to providing the "framework" of legislation before the Copenhagen meeting.

The U.S. House bill requires a 17 percent reduction in U.S. smokestack emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases by 2020, from 2005 levels.

With delays in Congress and divisions between developed and developing countries, the United Nations and Denmark acknowledged on Monday that it would not be possible to reach a binding international treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions before mid-2010 at the earliest.

(Editing by David Storey)