20 countries unite to fight climate change

The nations, among the most vulnerable to global warming, form group to pool resources

LIMA • Finance ministers from 20 of the countries most vulnerable to climate change have launched the V-20 group to pool resources for their fight against the impact of global warming.

The group, which includes some of the world's smallest and poorest countries, is a counterpoint to the G-20 group of leading industrialised and emerging economies.

It pointedly held its inaugural meeting just ahead of a gathering of G-20 finance ministers in the Peruvian capital of Lima, where economic policymakers from around the world are gathered this week for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"We are low- and middle-income, least developed, arid, isthmus, landlocked, mountainous and small-island developing countries," the group said in a statement. "Home to close to 700 million people - or approximately one in 10 alive today... we are united in our shared vulnerability and exposure to climate change."

The group, which aims to both raise and manage funds to fight climate change, agreed to set up a public-private "climate risk pooling mechanism" - a sort of insurance fund for extreme weather events and disasters.

The launch on Thursday came as the clock ticks down to key United Nations climate talks in December that will seek a comprehensive deal on curbing carbon emissions and saving the planet from the potentially disastrous impacts of global warming.

Funding for poor and vulnerable nations has been a major sticking point in previous climate talks.

Wealthy nations have pledged to come up with US$100 billion (S$141 billion) a year in financing by 2020. As of last year, they had reached US$62 billion, according to a new report.

The V-20's inaugural chairman, Philippine Finance Minister Cesar Purisima, said the cost of falling short would be astronomical.

"In the absence of an effective global response, annual economic losses due to climate change are projected to exceed US$400 billion by 2030 for the V-20," he said.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres called for "ambitious and timely finance" to help the V-20 countries.

"Climate change is not only an environmental issue, it is a fundamental economic issue and needs financial solutions," she said.

The V-20's members are Af-ghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Timor Leste, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, the Maldives, Nepal, the Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline '20 countries unite to fight climate change'. Print Edition | Subscribe