Vocabulary: Environmental Issues

Learn key vocabulary related to environmental issues.

Word/phraseCEFRDefinitionExample
wildlife (n.)B1wild animals that live in a natural environmentWe need policies that protect wildlife.
pollution (n.)B1damage to water, air, etc. caused by human activitiesThe closure of factories reduces the amount of air pollution.
waste (n.)B1materials that are thrown away because they aren't neededWe should recycle a larger percentage of our household waste.
nuclear (adj.)B1relating to the production and use of nuclear energy (i.e. energy produced by splitting atoms)France relies on nuclear energy.
national park (n.)B1land that is protected by the government so that people can visit and enjoy itYellowstone National Park is almost 9,000 square kilometres in size.
litter (n.)B1+small pieces of rubbish (e.g. cans and bottles) that are left in a public spacePlease put your litter in the bins provided.
die out (v.)B1+disappear forever; become extinctThe dinosaurs died out around 65 million years ago.
recycle (v.)B1+process things (e.g. paper, glass) so that they can be used againMany types of plastic can be recycled.
solar (adj.)B1+relating to energy obtained from the sunAn increasing number of people are having solar panels installed on their roofs.
climate change (n.)B1+the long-term change to the world's temperature and weather patternsClimate change has received substantially more attention in the past decade.
carbon dioxide (n.)B2the gas produced when humans and animals breathe out or by burning carbonTrees absorb carbon dioxide.
global warming (n.)B2the long-term increase in the world's temperaturesGlobal warming leads to rising sea levels.
coal (n.)B2a hard black substance found below the ground that can be burnt to produce heatChina is the world's largest coal producer.
renewable (adj.)B2(of energy and natural resources) able to be replaced with no risk of running outFossil fuels such as oil and coal are not renewable.
sustainable (adj.)B2involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not damage the environmentThere is now a greater emphasis on the use of sustainable building materials.
ecosystem (n.)B2+all of the plants and animals living in a particular area and their relationship to each other and their environmentAustralia's Great Barrier Reef is a fragile ecosystem.
greenhouse gas (n.)B2+a gas (e.g. carbon dioxide) that is thought to trap heat above the EarthGovernments around the world are taking measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
extinct (adj.)B2+used to describe a plant or animal that no longer existsClimate change has led to many species becoming extinct.
fossil fuel (n.)B2+a type of fuel (e.g. coal, oil) that is formed over millions of yearsWe need to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels.
landfill (n.)B2+a place where large amounts of waste are buried under the groundA lot of recycled clothing goes to landfill.
deforestation (n.)C1the act of cutting down most or all of the trees in an areaDeforestation leads to soil erosion.
wind turbine (n.)C1a machine with long parts that are turned by the wind to produce electricitySome people do not like wind turbines because of the noise they produce.
carbon footprint (n.)C1the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a person or organisation through daily activities, etc.We all need to reduce our carbon footprint.
overpopulation (n.)C1the situation where there are too many people living in particular area, country, etc.Overpopulation leads to a range of issues.
carbon neutral (adj.)C1if something (e.g. an organisation, an activity) is carbon neutral, it removes as much carbon dioxide from the air as it producesMany new buildings are designed to be carbon neutral.