Twenty of the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, formed a new group to press for tougher action to curb warming. Finance ministers from the 20 nations joined for the first time in Lima, Peru to form The Vulnerable 20, or V20.
During the meeting, the ministers agreed on boosting funding for climate action and called for more finance to protect the world's poor from the effects of global warming. Draft documents for the meeting said the 20 countries represented 700 million people in low- and middle-income nations that were arid, landlocked, mountainous or vulnerable to rising sea levels.
The V20 group's draft action plan will seek to "strengthen economic and financial cooperation and action to address climate change risks and opportunities" and promote a shift to a low-carbon global economy. Goals are expected to include "improved access to international climate-change finance" to help cope with droughts, floods, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.
The V20 countries said they produced just 2% of world greenhouse gas emissions but had suffered an average of more than 50,000 deaths a year since 2010 from disasters they linked to rising temperatures.
"We are fully convinced that climate change is the defining challenge of our time. Overcoming it is a matter of survival for all people on all continents and vulnerable communities everywhere. As vulnerable and developing countries, we from the V20, contribute the least to these problems, yet suffer the greatest losses and the least ability to solve these issues," Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told Reuters.
The V20 countries estimated they faced "escalating losses of at least 2.5% of (their) GDP potential per year, estimated at $45bn (£29.27bn, €40bn) since 2010." The V20 countries also vowed to make their own efforts to increase resources for tackling climate change.
They agreed to establish a sovereign climate-risk pooling mechanism that would enable their economies to recover better from climate-linked disasters by increasing access to affordable insurance and encouraging adaptation measures. They also backed the creation of an international financial transaction tax to raise extra funds to fight climate change.
"We understand the power of finances and climate action. Together, we will strive for pioneering and innovative solutions to finance climate change. It is our responsibility to our constituents to be financially and economically prepared to minimise the long-term disruption of climate change. It is likewise in our best interest to research, support and adapt forward-thinking initiatives to finance climate change, to put a stop on the warming of the earth. Further, we will make earnest representations for V20 participation in various forms for international cooperation such as the G20," Purisima added.
The head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, Christiana Figueres, also participated in the meeting where she applauded the efforts of the finance ministers who had gathered here.
"We see it actually as a very welcome development, very active engagement of ministers of finance, something that we've actually been hoping and praying for and now here it is so we are quite delighted to have this engagement because I think it really shows that climate change is not only an environmental issue, it is a fundamental economic issue and needs financial solutions, so we are delighted," Figueres said.
The member states that make up V20 are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, St Lucia, Tanzania, East Timor, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.