The world's top climate scientists have declared climate change is now a direct threat to human wellbeing and time is running out to "secure a liveable and sustainable future for all".
"The scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet," IPCC Working Group co-chair Hans-Otto Prtner said on Tuesday.
"Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future."
The new report found the scale of the impacts from climate change threatened to overwhelm Australia's - and the world's - ability to adapt in the coming decades, with some impacts requiring rapid and radical transformations in lifestyle, combined with immediate and sharp cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
Serious risks to Australia include irreversible loss of coral reefs, loss of alpine species, collapse of forests in southern Australia, loss of kelp forests, sea-level rise, an increase in severe fire weather days and a dramatic increase in fatal heatwaves.
The report, compiled by almost 300 scientists across 67 countries, urges governments to drastically cut emissions and cease the extraction and burning of fossil fuels this decade.
"For most Australians, this report is long, technical and at times dry. But its message is anything but. We are being harmed by climate change now, and the future is potentially terrifying," Professor Will Steffen, former IPCC report author and climate councillor said.
"We are seeing climate change play out in real time with unprecedented rainfall and flooding taking a horrible toll on communities in QLD and NSW. These events will only get worse if we don't act now to reduce emissions."
The Climate Council's Director of Research Dr Simon Bradshaw said Australia was one of the most vulnerable developed countries in the world.
"Right now, communities in Southeast Queensland and Northern NSW are being pummelled by extraordinarily intense rainfall and flooding. These communities have hardly had time to recover from past disasters and again they're facing profound heartbreak and loss," he said.
"Increasingly, we see that communities are being hit with one disaster after another, like drought followed by fire, followed by flood. The compounding effect of these disasters is taking a heavy toll.
"The report is very clear: any further delay in global action will miss the brief and closing window to secure a liveable future."
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