How To Talk About The Environment

Are you worried about climate change? Do you want to save the planet (and save humanity?)

Check out these 20 essential words to talk about the environment in English. They’re divided into environmental themes such as climate change, energy, waste and being environmentally-friendly.

Climate Change

Climate change = the idea that the weather is changing
“Extreme weather is one sign that we’re experiencing climate change.”

Global warming = when the whole world is getting hotter
“People say that by 2050, global warming will have made some parts of the world too hot for humans.”

Reforest = plant trees to create a forest
“The government want to reforest this area.”


Fossil fuel = energy from “fossils”, such as wood, coal or oil
“We need to phase out our use of fossil fuels to reduce pollution.”

Renewable energy / Clean fuel = energy which is naturally re-occuring, such as wind power, solar energy, etc
“We’re gradually moving to renewable energy.”

Carbon emissions (carbon = carbon dioxide) = the amount of gas which is released by burning fossil fuels
“Carbon emissions create high levels of pollution.”

Carbon footprint = the amount of carbon dioxide you add to the atmosphere when you travel
“Have you ever measured your own carbon footprint?”

Carbon neutral = when you balance the carbon emissions you are responsible for by doing environmentally-friendly things
“Tree-planting is one way to be carbon neutral.

Conserve = to not use too much of something
“You can conserve water by having a shower rather than a bath.”

Offset = when you balance something bad by doing something positive
“You can offset carbon emissions by planting trees.”

Zero emissions = some forms of transport don’t create pollution or release carbon dioxide
“This car produces zero emissions.”


Recycle = use again
“How much rubbish do you recycle?”

Bio-degradable = when something can be absorbed into the earth
“Fruit and vegetables are bio-degradable, but plastic isn’t.”

Zero waste = when you don’t produce any waste at all
“The kitchen in that restaurant claims to be zero-waste. They re-use everything.”


Environmentally-friendly = when you do things that are good for the planet
“Reducing the amount of plastic you use is environmentally-friendly.”

Cut down on = reduce
“Have you cut down on your car journeys?”

Go vegan / meat-free = become a vegan (eat no meat, fish or dairy)
“A lot of people have gone vegan.”

Biodiversity = when there is a wide variety of plants and animals
“Biodiversity is essential for our survival.”

Eco-warrior = an activist who “fights” to protect the environment
“There were lots of eco-warriors at the demonstration.”

Rewilding = when you restore wild nature
“Wolves will return to the UK as part of a rewilding project.”