NEW DELHI – India and China, both major polluters and crucial players in fighting global warming, agreed Wednesday to stand together on climate change issues at a major global conference later this year.
The December summit in Copenhagen aims to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first international deal requiring reductions in emissions of heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" by industrialized countries.
Developing countries argue that the industrial world produced most of the harmful gases in recent decades and should bear the costs of fixing the problem. India and China have agreed to work on slowing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but resist making those limits binding and subject to international monitoring.
"There is no difference between the Indian and Chinese negotiating positions, and we are discussing further what the two countries should be doing for a successful outcome at Copenhagen," Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate change negotiator, said the agreement "will usher in a new scenario and take cooperation on climate change between the two countries to a new high," PTI reported.
The agreement emphasized that the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol are the most appropriate framework for addressing climate change," according to a text released by India's Environment Ministry.
The United States rejected the Kyoto Protocol because it exempted developing countries, such as India and China, from obligations. Developing countries also want financial aid for their climate change efforts. The challenge in Copenhagen is finding a way to make a deal.
On Tuesday, India, Pakistan and six other South Asian nations said they will stand together at Copenhagen to stick with the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Wednesday's agreement between India and China comes as a diplomatic dispute continues over the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its territory since the two nations fought a war in 1962. India rejects Beijing's claim.
The countries have sparred over a proposed visit to the region by the Dalai Lama in mid-November, with China opposing the trip and India's Foreign Ministry saying the Tibetan spiritual leader is free to travel within India.