China and France have agreed to include compliance checks in the international climate change agreement that will be negotiated in Paris in December.

French President Francois Hollande who is in China to secure China’s commitment to the COP21 conference called it a “historic” step forward.

The Paris conference will be attended by at least 80 world leaders including China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama.

It seeks to unite all the world’s nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change, with the goal of capping warming at two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

Each signatory’s progress should be reviewed every five years, China and France said in a joint statement, to “reinforce mutual confidence and promote efficient implementation”. They gave no details.

“The Paris accord must send a clear signal for the world to engage in a transition towards green, low-carbon development that is sustainable and resilient in the face of climate change,” it said.

The two also reiterated that the deal should be legally binding — something which China had already agreed in its submission in June to the conference.

In that document, Beijing also said checks on compliance should be “non-intrusive, non-punitive and respecting national sovereignty”.

China is the world’s largest polluter and will be a key player at the event, which begins on November 30, in the face of disputes over whether developed or developing countries should bear more of the burden for reducing emissions.

The joint declaration acknowledged the issue, saying that “flexibility should be offered to developing countries who should require it, according to their capacities”.

Hollande said the statement was a “major step” towards an agreement in Paris, where China was “necessary, indispensable” for success.

“With this declaration, we have set up conditions which open the way to success and I am minded to believe that an agreement is now possible,” he told reporters.

“The conditions were laid in Beijing today, it will be said. This visit is historic. And I am weighing my words.”