A group of six nations, including the US, China, India and Australia, have announced a surprise pact to fight climate change mainly based on technology transfers. The deal was cautiously welcomed by the EU.

The six signatories of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development are the USA, China, India, Australia, Japan and South Korea. The USA and Australia are the only two countries in the pact that have not signed up to Kyoto. However, in view of their status as emerging economies, China and India are exempt from taking legally binding measures under the protocol.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard applauded a new regional global warming pact, saying it is fairer and more effective than the Kyoto Protocol, which his nation has refused to ratify. Australia joined with the world's top two air polluters - the United States and China - along with India, Japan and South Korea to unveil a new Asia-Pacific partnership to develop cleaner energy technologies in hopes of curtailing climate-changing pollution.

The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, announced overnight in Washington, has been presented as a compliment to the Kyoto Protocol that commits nations to cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming. Australia and the United States, which account for one quarter of the world's climate changing greenhouse gases, have both refused to ratify the Kyoto treaty, saying it would harm their economies. Their other objection is that the pact mandates greenhouse gas emission reductions only among industrial countries and not developing countries like India and China, which is second only to the US in emissions.

'The fairness and effectiveness of this proposal will be superior to the Kyoto Protocol,' Mr Howard told reporters in Sydney, adding that he was confident the new agreement was 'not something that will destroy Australian jobs and unfairly penalise Australian industries'.