Australia saw hottest year on record in 2013

In 2013 Sydney was hit by 'the most destructive fires since at least 1968'

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Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2013, officials have said.

Temperatures were 1.2C above the long term average, the warmest since records began in 1910, the Bureau of Meteorology said in its annual report.

The year also saw a record-warm winter that led into the most devastating fires in Sydney since 1968, it said.

The warming in Australia was consistent with global climate trends, where rising temperatures were influenced by greenhouse gases, it added.

According to the bureau, all but one of the last 10 years have had warmer-than-average temperatures in Australia.

"The Australian region warming is very similar to that seen at the global scale, and the past year emphasises that the warming trend continues," the bureau said in its annual climate statement.

The report listed significant climate events in 2013, including "the most destructive fires in the Sydney region since at least 1968", which were affected by "a record-warm and dry winter and an early spring".

Neil Plummer, from the bureau, told broadcaster ABC: "Most of the warming has occurred since around 1950, and that's consistent with the global pattern."

He said that figures from the bureau, and other bureaus around the world, provided a "body of evidence that we're all seeing a warming over Australia and a warming world".

The news will likely add to criticism from environmentalists that the new conservative government is not doing enough to tackle climate change, the BBC's Jon Donnison in Sydney reports.

Ministers recently cut funding for a number of organisations carrying out research into global warming, and the government has also pledged to abolish a carbon tax which makes the country's biggest polluters pay for the amount of greenhouse cases they produce, our correspondent adds.

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