Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.jpg
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during a press conference at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices, in Sydney, Australia, 10 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/PAUL MILLER AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

More than 150 scientists have demanded that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urgently tackle the root causes of climate change, saying there is "no Planet B."

In an open letter published on Thursday, the 154 Australian scientists pointed out that July 2016 was the hottest month since records began 136 years ago.

"Governments worldwide are presiding over a large-scale demise of the planetary ecosystems, which threatens to leave large parts of Earth uninhabitable," they wrote.

The federal government must make "meaningful reductions of Australia’s peak carbon emissions and coal exports, while there is still time," they wrote. "There is no Planet B."

Last year 180 countries, including Australia, signed the Paris climate treaty, which aims to limit average global warming to "well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C."

But since the agreement is non-binding it is in danger of remaining unfulfilled by many of the signatories, scientists have warned.

On their letter published on The Conversation, an independent academic-research website, the Australian scientists said average carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere had reached 400 parts per million in 2015, and were rising at a rate of nearly 3 ppm each year.

"We are concerned that global warming, amplified by feedbacks from polar ice melt, methane release from permafrost, and extensive fires, may become irreversible" wrote the scientists, who have backgrounds in various fields including environmental and marine sciences, biology and medicine.

They highlighted the possible collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a crucial component of the global climate system which transfers heat from the tropics to the North Atlantic.

They also quoted Joachim Schellnhuber, Germany’s chief climate scientist, who said: "We're simply talking about the very life support system of this planet."

On Wednesday, a report by the Sydney-based Climate Institute said Australia could avoid the development of extremely long heatwaves and boost the survival chances of the rapidly deteriorating Great Barrier Reef if it helped to limit global warming to 1.5C instead of 2C.

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