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India and China agree to united front on climate change

India and China's climate-change pact, signed Wednesday, will boost developing nations' bargaining power at the critical Copenhagen talks in December.

China's chief climate change official, Xie Zhenhua, right, shakes hands with Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh after signing an agreement during a joint workshop on national action plan on climate change in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Dar Yasin/AP

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China's new climate change deal with India, signed Wednesday in New Delhi, serves two purposes, experts say.

First, it binds the two largest CO2 emitters in the developing world to a common stance at upcoming international negotiations on climate change in Copenhagen, firming up the coalition of poor countries that will square off against industrialized nations.

The five-year pact also points the way toward joint efforts to cut growth in CO2 emissions that the two Asian giants have pledged to make, while resisting fixed targets for such emissions reductions.

Under the agreement, India and China will work together to increase energy efficiency, boost the use of renewable energy sources, develop "clean coal" technology, and improve afforestation techniques. (Read about China's green leap forward here.)

This "takes cooperation on climate change between the two countries to a new high," said Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate change negotiator, at the signing ceremony.

"This is very positive," says Yang Fuqian, a climate change expert with the Worldwide Fund for Nature in Beijing. The agreement could also benefit other developing countries, he suggests, if China and India combine their know-how to build and export cheap but reliable wind turbines, for example.

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