Australia faces a rise in temperature of potentially more than 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, an increase that would outpace global warming worldwide, the country's national science agency said today, as wild weather hit the east coast.
In its most comprehensive analysis yet of the impacts of climate change, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) painted a worst-case scenario of a rise of up to 5.1 degrees celsius by 2090 if there are no actions taken to cut greenhouse emissions.
"There is a very high confidence that hot days will become more frequent and hotter," CSIRO principal research scientist Kevin Hennessy said.
"We also have very high confidence that sea levels will rise, oceans will become more acidic, and snow depths will decline."
Australia's climate had already changed, with more of Australia's rain coming in heavier falls since the 1970s, the report said.
The report's release has coincided with heavy falls across Australia's east coast, and a severe thunderstorm warning for parts of NSW today.
The Bureau of Meteorology has reissued flood warnings for parts of NSW and Queensland.
The dire warning from the government-funded agency is at odds with the official line from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who in 2009 declared the science of climate change was "crap".
Abbott last year scrapped a tax on carbon pricing and abolished the independent Climate Commission, saying recent severe droughts that have crippled cattle farmers were "not a new thing in Australia."
As the host of the Group of 20 last year, he attempted to keep climate change off the agenda, resulting in an embarrassing back down at the Leaders Summit in Brisbane after US President Barack Obama used a high-profile speech to warn Australia that its own Great Barrier Reef was in danger.
Late last year Australia pledged $200 million to the United Nations' Green Climate Fund.
Abbott has committed A$2.55 billion to a domestic initiative to reduce the country's emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
The new research by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, using some 40 global climate models, has Australia warming at a greater rate than the rest of the world.
The 5.1 degree celsius projection for 2090 is at the top end of a range starting at 2.8 degrees celsius and is dependent on how deeply, if at all, greenhouse gas emissions are cut.
The world average is for an increase of between 2.6 degrees celsius and 4.8 degrees celsius.
The report said the annual average temperature in Australia would likely be up to 1.3 degrees celsius warmer in 2030 than the average experienced between 1986 and 2005.