Glossary entry

Climate Change

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The definitions on this website (and published in our Climate Contract Playbook) have been prepared in good faith on a pro bono basis and are free to download and use. The definitions have been drafted and edited by a variety of lawyers and, as such, the approaches to drafting may not conform to any particular drafting norms. We acknowledge this as a consequence of the collaborative drafting process.

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Climate Change

Climate Change means a change in the state of the climate that can be identified and that persists for [an extended period of time/decades] and where the change is caused directly or indirectly by (i) human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere or (ii) natural processes, including volcanic eruptions and changes of solar cycles.

Examples of climate change include major changes in temperature, precipitation or wind patterns as well as changes in the risk of severe weather events occurring.

Drafting notes

This definition differs from that of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as it includes changes that result from natural climate variability. From the point of view of a legal agreement, the cause of climate change is immaterial, the important point is that steps are taken to mitigate it and also reduce its impact (adaptation). Those using this definition to draft national climate laws (where the causes of climate change may be more relevant) may want to adapt the definition only to focus on human-induced climate change.

The time period over which changes to the climate must persist to amount to climate change that is envisaged by most definitions of climate change is decades.


Supply chain clauses, national climate laws.