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IPCC Introduces New ‘Climate Change’ Definition

Reflecting the diversity of the communities involved in this assessment and progress in science, several of the definitions used in the IPCC’s Special Report (2012) differ in breadth or focus from those used in the AR4 and other IPCC reports.

Climate Change: A change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. (2)

(2) This definition differs from that in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where climate change is defined as: “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and climate variability attributable to natural causes.]

IPCC SREX Summary for Policymakers, page 3