President Obama announced Saturday a major conference on energy and climate change to be held in Italy this July with a preparatory session in Washington in late April.

Obama debuted the "Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate," an effort among countries to generate some consensus before climate change negotiations to be held in December and hosted by the United Nations.

The State Department will host the leaders of 16 countries and the leader of the United Nations in a preparatory session in late April, the White House announced.

The participating countries include: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The United Nations and Denmark, host of the December negotiations on climate change, will also participate.