Tokyo, April 23:

Japan signed a deal on Monday to help fast-growing India fight global warming as the two countries look ahead to a framework after the landmark Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Under the agreement, Japan will invest in India’s energy industry and transfer energy-saving technology. It comes two weeks after Japan sealed a similar agreement with China during a landmark visit here by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Meeting with Japanese Trade Minister Akira Amari, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, said India “understands that global warming is a scientific fact backed by evidence.”

A Japanese official cited the Indian visitor as saying that “India knows the importance of energy efficient technology and that it wants to curb growth of energy consumption through cooperation with Japan.”

A joint statement establishes a regular dialogue between the two countries on energy conservation “through the voluntary formulation of energy efficiency goals and action plans,” the official said.

“This part mentioning ‘energy efficiency goals’ shows that India is committed to setting a target in reducing greenhouse-gas emission, which the statement with China didn’t have,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Under the Kyoto Protocol aimed at tackling global warming, only 35 industrialised nations that have signed and ratified the pact are required to make targeted cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases.

Big developing country polluters such as India and China have no such obligations, leading the United States, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gas, and Australia to shun the pact. Japan, the host of the Kyoto Protocol, has sought a high profile in the fight against global warming.

Press reports say Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President George W. Bush will agree at a summit this week to cooperate against global warming after the 2012 framework set by the Kyoto treaty.

A UN report this month warned that climate change is set to inflict damage in every continent, hitting poor countries hardest and threatening nearly a third of the world’s species with extinction.

In the talks, India and Japan also discussed potential cooperation over nuclear energy. Japan has been cautious over a controversial civil nuclear agreement between India and the United States that would give New Delhi access to US nuclear technology.

Ahluwalia said New Delhi “wants to have Japan’s cooperation in nuclear technology in the future, although it is aware that there are constraints on the issue,” the Japanese official said. He was referring to Japan’s rejection of nuclear cooperation with countries that are not signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Japan is also a key player in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which controls the transfer of nuclear material and needs to approve the India-US deal. Tokyo is sensitive on nuclear issues as it is the only nation to have been attacked with atomic weapons.