The United States and China will establish a joint working group on climate change, they said Saturday, adding that they had a shared view on the "increasing dangers" of global warming.
The two countries "recognise that the increasing dangers presented by climate change measured against the inadequacy of the global response requires a more focused and urgent initiative", they said in a joint statement issued in Beijing.
The initiative came as US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Beijing for talks with top Chinese leaders focused largely on the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.
But the issue of how to deal with climate change has long vexed relations between the world's two biggest economies, which are also the biggest greenhouse gas emitters.
China says developing countries, which emit far less carbon per capita, should not have to bear the same burden as advanced economies for tackling the problem.
"By agreeing to raise the issue of climate change and energy policy to the ministerial level... we put on an accelerated basis at a higher level our joint efforts with respect to energy and climate", Kerry told reporters.
"And I think that globally that will be a very significant step and significant message."
State Councillor Yang Jiechi, China's top foreign policy official, said the two sides would "strengthen practical cooperation" in areas including the economy, energy and environmental protection.
In the joint statement China and the US said they "took special note of the overwhelming scientific consensus" concerning "climate change and its worsening impacts".
Those include rising global temperatures, rapid melting of Arctic sea ice and "the striking incidence of extreme weather events occurring all over the world", they said.