Environmental Issues

Learn key vocabulary related to environmental issues.

by Tim Martyn

bushfires in a valley

↔  scrollable table

Word/phrase CEFR Definition Example
wildlife (n.) B1 wild animals that live in a natural environment We need policies that protect wildlife.
pollution (n.) B1 damage to water, air, etc. caused by human activities The closure of factories reduces the amount of air pollution.
waste (n.) B1 materials that are thrown away because they aren't needed We should recycle a larger percentage of our household waste.
nuclear (adj.) B1 relating to the production and use of nuclear energy (i.e. energy produced by splitting atoms) France relies on nuclear energy.
national park (n.) B1 land that is protected by the government so that people can visit and enjoy it Yellowstone 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 space Please put your litter in the bins provided.
die out (v.) B1+ disappear forever; become extinct The dinosaurs died out around 65 million years ago.
recycle (v.) B1+ process things (e.g. paper, glass) so that they can be used again Many types of plastic can be recycled.
solar (adj.) B1+ relating to energy obtained from the sun An 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 patterns Climate change has received substantially more attention in the past decade.
carbon dioxide (n.) B2 the gas produced when humans and animals breathe out or by burning carbon Trees absorb carbon dioxide.
global warming (n.) B2 the long-term increase in the world's temperatures Global warming leads to rising sea levels.
coal (n.) B2 a hard black substance found below the ground that can be burnt to produce heat China is the world's largest coal producer.
renewable (adj.) B2 (of energy and natural resources) able to be replaced with no risk of running out Fossil fuels such as oil and coal are not renewable.
sustainable (adj.) B2 involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not damage the environment There 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 environment Australia'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 Earth Governments around the world are taking measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
extinct (adj.) B2+ used to describe a plant or animal that no longer exists Climate 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 years We need to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels.
landfill (n.) B2+ a place where large amounts of waste are buried under the ground A lot of recycled clothing goes to landfill.
deforestation (n.) C1 the act of cutting down most or all of the trees in an area Deforestation leads to soil erosion.
wind turbine (n.) C1 a machine with long parts that are turned by the wind to produce electricity Some people do not like wind turbines because of the noise they produce.
carbon footprint (n.) C1 the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a person or organisation through daily activities, etc. We all need to reduce our carbon footprint.
overpopulation (n.) C1 the situation where there are too many people living in particular area, country, etc. Overpopulation leads to a range of issues.
carbon neutral (adj.) C1 if something (e.g. an organisation, an activity) is carbon neutral, it removes as much carbon dioxide from the air as it produces Many new buildings are designed to be carbon neutral.