"Incontrovertible evidence" of global risk to environment

THE latest report from the United Nations' key climate change body has found "incontrovertible evidence" of serious risks to the global environment, a key scientist has warned.

Released on Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found the incidence of higher temperatures, more frequent heatwaves; ocean acidification and natural disasters will continue to rise.

Climate change also poses risks through sea level rises to coastal areas, agriculture crops through rising temperatures and the Great Barrier Reef, the IPCC warned.

University of Queensland scientist Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said the IPCC's fifth report also identified tourism and maritime industries as likely to feel the earliest and "most significant effects" of climate change.

"Even a one degree Celsius temperature change above today will bring devastatingly expensive impacts for human communities and economies," he said.

"Oceans have absorbed over 90% of the heat arising from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and have soaked up around 30% of the carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

"The rate at which energy has been entering the ocean is phenomenal, equivalent to the addition of two atomic bombs every second."

Prof Hoegh-Guldberg was among many scientists and environmentalists to call for urgent action on climate change after the report's release on Monday.

Among them, WWF Australia climate change spokeswoman Kellie Caught said the news "wasn't good" for the reef and Australia's threatened wildlife.

She said the report confirmed the reef was in danger due to warming and ocean acidification expected to increase coral bleaching, marine disease and mortality.

"The loss of unique Australian species and places is a loss to the whole world. There is no way to put a price on this," she said.

The independent Climate Council's Professor Lesley Hughes said the report confirmed it was now the "critical decade" to tackle the causes of climate change to avert the most serious risks.

"Reducing the risks of water shortages, bushfire weather, extreme heatwaves, loss of biodiversity and decreased agricultural production will depend on how rapidly we are able to respond to the challenge of climate change," she said.

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