From October 8, 1999 through November 13, 2007, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly stated on their “about” page that the role of the IPCC was specifically related to “understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change.”
At some point after November 13, 2007, the IPCC deleted the about page and has shifted its definition of climate change: “Climate change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.”
The original about page and it’s variations can be found on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine: http://www.ipcc.ch/about/about.htm which will show the following:
October 8, 1999 to December 8, 2002 – The role of the IPCC is to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. It does not carry out new research nor does it monitor climate related data. It bases its assessment mainly on published and peer reviewed scientific technical literature.
November 13, 2007 – The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC does not carry out research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature. Its role, organisation, participation and general procedures are laid down in the “Principles Governing IPCC Work”
I found the following material related to human-induced climate change in the most recent IPCC assessment report.
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report
Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis
1.6 The IPCC Assessments of Climate Change and Uncertainties
The WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the IPCC in 1988 with the assigned role of assessing the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for understanding the risk of human-induced climate change. The original 1988 mandate for the IPCC was extensive: ‘(a) Identification of uncertainties and gaps in our present knowledge with regard to climate changes and its potential impacts, and preparation of a plan of action over the short-term in filling these gaps; (b) Identification of information needed to evaluate policy implications of climate change and response strategies; (c) Review of current and planned national/international policies related to the greenhouse gas issue; (d) Scientific and environmental assessments of all aspects of the greenhouse gas issue and the transfer of these assessments and other relevant information to governments and intergovernmental organisations to be taken into account in their policies on social and economic development and environmental programs.’ The IPCC is open to all members of UNEP and WMO. It does not directly support new research or monitor climate-related data. However, the IPCC process of synthesis and assessment has often inspired scientific research leading to new findings.
Historical Overview of Climate Change Science
The concept of this chapter is new. There is no counterpart in previous IPCC assessment reports for an introductory chapter providing historical context for the remainder of the report. Here, a restricted set of topics has been selected to illustrate key accomplishments and challenges in climate change science. The topics have been chosen for their significance to the IPCC task of assessing information relevant for understanding the risks of human-induced climate change, and also to illustrate the complex and uneven pace of scientific progress.
A report of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Summary for Policymakers
Climate change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
The original mandated role of the IPCC has been removed from view. However, the IPCC still operates under the presumption that current climate change is largely human-induced.