Several major nations, including the United States and Japan, have reached an agreement to limit export financing to build coal power plants overseas.

Environmentalists say the pact reached Tuesday is an important step forward and sends a strong political message ahead of upcoming climate change talks in Paris.

The Obama administration announced in 2013 that it would unilaterally end U.S. financing for overseas coal power plants, and has been pressuring others to join. Japan was among those opposed to the move, arguing that its high-efficiency power plant technology is the best option for developing countries that need affordable energy.

The agreement was reached by the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group of 34 countries including most of Europe and other key economies.