Delegates at the Lima climate change talks have agreed on a plan to fight global warming and an agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan approved on Sunday was seen as an important first step towards a climate change deal which is due to be finalised in Paris next year.

"As a text it's not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties," said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the Peruvian environment minister, who presided over the talks.

Wealthy countries have agreed to help developing countries fight climate change, by investing in clean energy technology or offering climate aid.

Countries already threatened by climate change – such as small island states which face being swallowed up by rising seas – were promised a "loss and damage" programme of financial aid.

"I think for the first time ever the world can contemplate a global deal applicable to all and Lima has helped that process," the UK's energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, said.

However, environmental groups have criticised the deal as a weak and ineffectual compromise. They cite that it is not far-reaching enough to keep to the internationally agreed global warming limit within the 2°C threshold and protect poorer countries from climate change.

"It's definitely watered down from what we expected," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Sam Smith, chief of climate policy for the environmental group WWF, said: "The text went from weak to weaker to weakest and it's very weak indeed."

Jagoda Munic, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International, said fears the talks would fail to deliver "a fair and ambitious outcome" had been proven "tragically accurate".

The five-page text agreed on Sunday – officially called the Lima Call for Climate Action – represents the first phase of the deal due to be delivered in Paris.

Lima climate change document calls for:

• An "ambitious agreement" in 2015 that reflects "differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" of each nation

• Developed countries to provide financial support to "vulnerable" developing nations

• National pledges to be submitted by the first quarter of 2015 by those states "ready to do so"

• Countries to set targets that go beyond their "current undertaking"

• The UN climate change body to report back on the national pledges in November 2015