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The European Union (EU) will give China the technology to make coal-fired power stations that produce 'near-zero' emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.

The announcement was made in Beijing yesterday (5 September) during the 8th EU-China Summit. It is part of a wider partnership agreed this week to find ways to mitigate climate change, and to research its potential effects and ways of adapting to them.

The agreement contains two major goals to be met by 2020.

The first aim is to develop, in both China and the EU, advanced power stations whose emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, can be captured and stored underground.

The second is to "reduce significantly the cost of key energy technologies and promote their deployment and dissemination".

According to the joint declaration that China and the EU issued on 2 September, the partners will also undertake other research and development activities related to climate change.

These include cooperating on renewable energy, hydrogen fuel cells, and recovering and using emissions of methane, another greenhouse gas.

International environmental groups, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Friends of the Earth, welcomed the partnership.

"With EU help, China is in a prime position to develop a low-carbon economy and set a model for future development for the rest of the world," said Friends of the Earth's executive director Tony Juniper in a statement.

He added that although "China's growing energy use and heavy reliance on coal mean that clean coal technology may be a necessary short-term solution", developing renewable energy technologies would be essential in the long-term.

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