The call comes as leaders meet in New York to discuss plans to cut green house gas emission, ahead of the Copenhagen conference in December.
The Alliance of Small Island States say they want a new climate agreement at Copenhagen to aim for a more ambitious temperature goal.
The group has called for the average rise in global temperatures to be kept below one and a half degrees celsius, rather than the two degree limit that many countries are aiming for.
They have also pleaded for an agreement on climate adaptation funding.
The alliance’s chairman, Grenada’s Prime Minister Tilman Thomas, says the states are gravely concerned for their survival.
‘We’re already being threatened. What I’m saying is that those who are really concerned about humanity and about survival, would they just sit back and permit countries to disappear? It is really an ethical question we are faced with now,’ he said.
Mr Thomas says a failure to act would be ‘benign genocide’.
The President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed has backed the sentiment.
‘I have a seven year old daughter, she will not live if we go over 1.5 degrees. Neither will the people of my country,’ he said.
‘You can come up with whatever term is suitable…but we are actually talking about not living because of climate change,’ he said.
Climate change adaptation
The group says a funding mechanism must also be established to pay for climate change adaptation, mitigation and technological transfer.
The Alliance of Small Island States say the funds must also be channelled through transparent, democratic mechanisms.
They say the funding mechanism should not be complex, since a range of funds already exist.
Granada’s Tilman Thomas says a percentage of world GDP, above and beyond existing aid budgets, should be agreed upon by world leaders.
And Mr Nasheed says current figures are not sufficient.
‘I do seem to remember [UK Prime Minister] Gordon Brown mentioning the hundred billion pounds. Of course that’s not sufficient but these are the kind of figures that has already been identified,’ he said.
‘Complex and hard’
But there’s no consensus on that from the wider world leadership yet.
Australia’s climate change minister Penny Wong says climate change is a complex and hard issue.
‘It’s about public finance, private finance, how you deliver through the carbon markets, what is the platform, what is the system. And we do think there’s merit in getting finance ministries involved in this,’ she said.
Senator Wong says there’s a danger in leaving that amount of detail to the end such a process but that appears to be exactly what the world’s leaders are doing, with only weeks to go to the critical December Copenhagen climate change meeting.