“We see it as actually a very welcome development, a very active engagement of ministers of finance,” executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueros, said in a video Friday after 20 developing countries announced they are joining forces to press for climate action. Philippine finance secretary Cesar Purisima made the announcement via video on the first day of the 2015 Annual Plenary Meetings in Lima, Peru, on Oct. 9.
The 20 countries call themselves the Vulnerable 20 or V20, to indicate that they are the most vulnerable to climate change, but contribute the least to this problem. In a draft document, they describe themselves as representing 700 million people in low- and middle-income nations that are similarly arid and landlocked, or vulnerable to rising sea levels, according to Reuters.
The draft states that they suffered an average of more than 50,000 deaths a year since 2010 from disasters they linked to rising temperatures although they produced just 2 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.
Figueros emphasized that climate change is more than just a fundamental environmental issue, but also an economic issue needing financial action.
The members, who include countries across continents, including Kenya, Vanuatu, the Maldives, and Vietnam agreed to “strengthen economic and financial cooperation and action to address climate change risks and opportunities.”
“We are fully convinced that climate change is the defining challenge of our time. Overcoming it is a matter of survival for people on all continents and vulnerable communities everywhere,” said Purisima.
The announcement is timely given the recent announcement of the draft global climate agreement released on Oct. 5, which calls for developing countries to create their own plans for emissions reduction.
In the past, developing countries had expressed frustration and disappointment over wealthy countries’ failure to come up with a clear plan for raising enough cash to fight climate change. Their willingness to pool their own resources is welcoming to the UNFCCC. Figueros said it was something they had been “hoping and praying for.”
Goals would include “improved access to international climate change finance” to assist with droughts, floods, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels.
Part of their plan is to form a sovereign climate-risk pooling mechanism, according to International Business Times. This mechanism is expected to increase access to affordable insurance and encourage adaptation measures to enable their economies to recover better from disasters.
Adaptation is one of the key components of the draft global climate agreement, which calls for mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is trying to reduce a particular problem that causes carbon dioxide emissions; adaptation is maintaining resilience despite lingering climate effects that could not be mitigated.
Funding for the pooling mechanism will likely be supported by the creation of an international financial transaction tax, which the V20 are supporting.