China and the United States - the world's two biggest greenhouse gas offenders - have finally signed an agreement to co-operate on clean energy technology while working to reverse climate change.
The 10-year memorandum of understanding was signed on the second day of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the two nations in Washington this week. It promises more co-operation on climate change, energy and the environment through regular dialogue but does not lay down any firm goals.
Energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner use of coal, smart grid technologies and electric cars will also be areas for collaboration, a document released by the US State Department said.
Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the agreement would serve as a framework for further discussions.
The agreement 'highlights the importance of climate change in our bilateral relationship by creating a platform for climate policy, dialogue and co-operation', US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. 'It also provides our countries with direction as we work together to support international climate negotiations and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy,' she added.
State Councillor Dai Bingguo said the agreement was 'an important outcome' and that the world's biggest developed economy and developing economy had common but different responsibilities.
Both sides are discussing the finer points on how to cut emissions ahead of the Copenhagen conference in December which will seek to build a global consensus on greenhouse gas reduction targets following the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol in 2013.
The agreement follows a visit by US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to the mainland for the launch of a joint project to design and test more energy-efficient buildings and cars and cleaner-burning coal techniques.