Useful environment vocabulary for Earth Day

Hands holding a model of the EarthEarth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22nd to raise awareness about environmental issues and promote sustainable living. On Earth Day, people around the world do different activities to celebrate the event, such as planting trees, picking up litter from the streets and beaches, or switching off the lights at home.

On Earth Day, you may see online posts and articles using vocabulary about the environment, which is also a common topic in English exams. This means it’s important to have a bank of useful language you can use to talk about the world around us. 

English environment vocabulary

There are many environmental words and phrases in English. Here are some ways to discuss specific topics related to the environment.

Expressing concerns

If you want to express concerns or worries about environmental issues, you can use phrases such as: 

  • It’s worrying that… (so much plastic is in our oceans)
  • It frightens me… (to hear about the planet getting hotter)
  • (Climate change) is a cause for great concern. 
  • It’s scary to think that… (hundreds of trees are being cut down every day) 

World issues

There are also many problems around the world that you might hear about on Earth Day and when people talk about the environment in English. 

  • The climate crisis refers to the ongoing changes in the Earth’s climate (or temperature and weather). It is mainly caused by human activities, such as cutting down trees – deforestation – and when we burn fuels. This has resulted in things such as rising global temperatures, melting ice and a rise in sea levels. 

The world must take urgent action to address the climate crisis, or we risk permanent damage to our planet.

  • Carbon emissions are the release of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. These carbon emissions contribute to global warming and the climate crisis.

The government has set a target to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

  • Natural disasters are natural events which happen and often cause damage to people and the planet. Some examples are flooding (when there is too much water in a specific area, over what is normal), hurricanes (a storm with a very strong and violent wind), and drought (when there is no water). 

The flooding came after the hurricane, and it caused damage to over 10,000 homes. 

Positive English environment vocabulary

Not all language is negative vocabulary about the environment! 

  • An eco-warrior is someone who is passionate about protecting the environment and takes action to promote sustainability (meeting the needs of the present while protecting the future). It can refer to anyone involved in helping the environment, from people who recycle and reduce waste to those who protest against corporations that harm the environment. 

She is an eco-warrior who dedicates her time and energy to protecting the planet.

  • Renewable resources are natural resources that can be used again and again because there is an unlimited amount of them. For example, wind, sun and tides (from the sea and oceans). 

Renewable resources like wind and solar energy are becoming increasingly important in the fight against climate change.

  • Net-zero refers to achieving a balance between the amount of gases we put into the atmosphere and the amount removed and absorbed by oceans and forests. Many governments and organisations are working towards this. 

The company has committed to becoming net zero by 2050 by reducing emissions and investing in renewable energy.

Understanding and using English environment vocabulary is essential for effectively communicating about environmental issues. Whether it’s for academic purposes such as an exam, or just because it’s an important issue you care about, being familiar with these terms will help you express your ideas and opinions about the environment and sustainability. 

Happy Earth Day!

Learn more vocabulary about the environment here


Choose the correct words or phrases to complete the sentences. 

  1. _____ are things like floods, droughts, and hurricanes. They often affect people and cause damage.
    Carbon emissions B. Natural disasters C. Eco-warriors
  2. When people talk about the _____, they are talking about the rise in global temperatures and changes in weather.
    climate crisis B. renewable resources C. net zero
  3. It has been reported that over 27,000 trees around the world are cut down to make tissues. This is called _____.
    renewable resources B. drought C. deforestation
  4. Many governments are now working towards achieving _____, which means balancing the amount of gases we put out with what we absorb.
    net zero B. sustainability C. hurricanes
  5. Solar, tidal, and wind energy are examples of _____.
    natural disasters B. renewable resources C. climate crises
  6. When there is heavy rain, there may be _____.
    drought B. flooding C. sustainability 


  1. B, natural disasters
  2. A, climate crisis
  3. C, deforestation
  4. A, net zero
  5. B, renewable resources
  6. B, flooding

Billie Jago is an ELT writer and teacher trainer, specialising in digital & assessments. She is the founder of the professional development podcast ELTcpd and co-founder of the digital ELT content agency, otterelt.

Author: Oxford University Press ELT

Every year we help millions of people around the world to learn English. As a department of the University of Oxford, we further the University’s objective of excellence in education by publishing proven and tested language learning books, eBooks, learning materials, and educational technologies.

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