The USA and China have agreed a set of new joint actions on climate change that has been hailed as a potential gamechanger for global climate negotiations.

The Whitehouse has announced a new target of cutting net US greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, while Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced new plans to increase China’s share of renewable energy and nuclear power to roughly 20 per cent of primary energy by 2020.

The USA and China together account for more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and the deal has been welcomed by environmental groups as well as energy firms.

The Climate Group said that the deal would send the right signal to businesses as well as boost the chances of a global climate deal in Paris next year. Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group said that the deal showed "that both countries recognize their individual responsibilities and the importance of their joint leadership on climate".

The deal also includes a pledge by China to peak CO2 emissions at 2030, and a commitment from both countries to work together and with other nations to adopt a climate deal in 2015.

"This is the news that many governments and businesses have been waiting for," added Kenber. "It will help create the confidence for other national governments to follow suit and implement the measures needed to avert runaway climate change. It will give business the direction and certainty it needs to scale up clean energy and energy efficiency, and send the right price signals to drive investment in low carbon technologies."

WWF also applauded the deal and called on G20 governments to step up the pace and scale of climate commitments at November’s G20 Leaders’ Summit in Australia. "These new targets from China and the US must be seen as opening bids in the negotiations, rather than final numbers," said WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative leader Samantha Smith.

The two nations have also agreed to expand their cooperation on advanced coal technologies, nuclear energy, shale gas and renewable energy. A major new carbon storage project will be established in China, they said in a joint statement.

According to Peabody Energy, this proposed carbon storage demonstration project would be an important success to GreenGen, a signature carbon capture and storage project near Tianjin.

Sian Crampsie