The world's biggest conference on coral reefs has begun in Cairns with more than two and a half thousand scientists signing a consensus statement agreeing climate change is damaging coral reefs.
Bob Richmond from the International Society of Reef Studies says one of the major focuses of the International Coral Reef Symposium is the damage being done to reefs by ocean acidification and changing weather patterns linked to climate change.
Dr Richmond says some Pacific nations are already seeing the effects of climate change through salt water intrusion into fresh water sources and damage to reefs through bleaching and damage from cyclones
"The Pacific Islands are probably contributing, are definitely contributing the least amount to greenhouse gasses locally. Yet these are the islands that are beginning to feel the impact and will suffer the most, the quickest from the impacts of the other nations."
Bob Richmond from the International Society of Reef Studies