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SPECIFIC natural disasters such as Cyclone Yasi and the Brisbane floods could not be directly linked to man-made climate change, the world's leading climate change authority said yesterday.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri said the general observation that climate change was bringing about an increase in extreme weather events was valid but scientists needed to provide much finer detail.
"Frankly, it is difficult to take a season or two and come up with any conclusions on those on a scientific basis," Dr Pachauri said.
"What we can say very clearly is the aggregate impact of climate change on all these events, which are taking place at much higher frequency and intensity all over the world.
"On that there is very little doubt; the scientific evidence is very, very strong. But what happens in Queensland or what happens in Russia or for that matter the floods in the Mississippi River right now, whether there is a link between those and climate change is very difficult to establish. So I don't think anyone can make a categorical statement on that."
Dr Pachauri's comments contradict assertions by Greens leader Bob Brown in the wake of the floods that the coal industry was to blame because the sector's contribution to global warming was responsible for the extreme weather conditions.
Scientists had concluded that the floods were caused by record high temperatures in the oceans around Australia, Senator Brown said at the time.
As experts from around the world meet on the Gold Coast this week to finalise a special report on global warming and extreme weather events, which is due out in November, Dr Pachauri admitted the IPCC had been damaged by recent controversies over leaked emails and its use of poor-quality research.