WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, fresh from his first legislative victory on climate policy, expressed confidence on Monday that new greenhouse gas emission limits would become law with help from the U.S. Senate.

Obama also announced new measures on efficiency standards for lighting used in homes and businesses to take effect in 2012.

The House of Representatives passed a climate change bill on Friday that would require large companies, including utilities and manufacturers, to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.

The Democratic president and many environmentalists declared the passage a historic step forward for U.S. energy policy, while Republicans and other opponents called it a massive tax that would not succeed in fighting climate change.

The bill gives Obama a stronger case to assert U.S. leadership on global warming at a meeting of the world's major emitters next week on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Italy.

But the president's victory may be short lived. The U.S. Senate must now shape its version of the same bill, and the chances of passage there are murky.

Obama and his top environmental aide, Carol Browner, expressed confidence that success would come in the Senate as well.

In the months to come, the Senate will take up its version of the energy bill, and I am confident that they too will choose to move this country forward, Obama told reporters.

Browner declined to speculate on the timing of a Senate vote but referred to statements by Majority Leader Harry Reid that work would be done on the bill this autumn.

I am confident that ... comprehensive energy legislation will pass the Senate, she said.

U.N. talks on a new global pact to fight climate change take place in December in Copenhagen, and analysts say having a U.S. law passed by then would boost chances of reaching an international agreement.

Obama has said he wants the United States to lead the world in fighting climate change.


The new efficiency standards announced by the president apply to fluorescent and incandescent lamps, which represent 37 and 7 percent of lighting energy use, respectively, the White House said. They would save up to 594 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2042, the White House said.

Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu also announced they were accelerating a $346 million investment of stimulus funds to be used in making new and existing homes as well as commercial buildings more energy efficient.

Though energy efficiency is part of the U.S. plan to reduce emissions, the main tool involves a so-called cap-and-trade system, included in the House bill, that sets limits on how much carbon dioxide big factories can emit.
Based on their individual limits, companies receive pollution permits, which they can buy or sell, depending on whether they come in beneath or above their caps.

As a presidential candidate, Obama proposed 100 percent auctioning of those permits to industry -- meaning all of the permits would be sold rather than given away to companies at the outset.

Browner said the administration understood there was a need for a transition to full auctioning, explaining why the president accepted that most of those permits under the House bill would be given to industry rather than sold.

(Editing by Will Dunham)