Below you’ll find plenty of climate change vocabulary and ideas. These are organised under headings:
- Talking about the scale of the problem
- Negative effects
- Possible solutions
- Ways of taking action
- How individuals can help
The idea in doing this is to show you that ideas need to be organised if you use them. Also, if you are one of those people who believes that global warming is not caused by human activity, you are not just on the wrong page – you are wrong!
Take a quick quiz first
Talking about the size of the problem
An important group of climate vocabulary and ideas is to say how large the problem is:
crisis: Climate change is a crisis that cannot be ignored by governments.
record levels/amount: Despite the claims of some scientists, we are now producing record levels of CO2 and there is no dispute about the connection between this and global warming.
disaster/disastrous: It is not an exaggeration to say that the effects of global warming are disastrous.
global: Although some areas are relatively unaffected now, climate change is a global problem.
irreversible: The major concern is that the effects of our actions on the climate will be irreversible.
long-term: The effects of our use of fossil fuels today may last for generations and it is almost certain to have long-term consequences for humanity.
This group of climate change vocabulary gives you language to explain what the effects are. As you read through the examples note the different language I use for effects and probability.
ill-health: It sometimes goes unnoticed that there is a clear connection between climate change and ill-health.
floods/rainstorms: One result of the rising temperatures is that floods and rainstorms are now a frequent occurrence.
the Polar ice cap: One major concern is that rising temperatures in the Arctic are causing the Polar ice cap to melt, which in turn is leading to rising sea levels.
heatwaves and droughts: Most experts agree that there is an increased risk of heatwaves and other extreme weather conditions.
the natural world: Climate change will not only have a severe impact on people, but also devastate the natural world and lead to the extinction of important species.
food shortages: We are already seeing in many parts of the world that climate change is leading to food shortages as a direct consequence of extreme weather conditions.
housing/homelessness: One side-effect of rising sea levels is that more and more people who live by the coast will become homeless.
conflicts/wars: If no action is taken on climate change, then it is likely that there will be more conflicts between nations, especially over water supplies.
cost: It has been shown that any delay in making emission cuts will increase the cost of reducing carbon dioxide by almost 50%.
You may also need to discuss the causes of climate change too. You don’t need any very technical knowledge and this vocabulary should be enough. Again, note the cause language.
human activity: It is no longer possible to say that human activity does not affect weather conditions.
greenhouse gas emissions: If we are to halt climate change, we need to make substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
power stations: One of the leading causes of climate change is the number of dirty power stations using fossil fuels.
carbon emissions: Carbon emissions are still rising year by year and are at record levels.
illegal logging and deforestation: It should not be forgotten that illegal logging in the Amazon Basin is still a major factor in climate change.
burning fossil fuels: Individuals can make a small contribution by not burning wood and other fossil fuels.
CO2: The root cause of much global warming is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
These words and phrases show different kinds of solutions. Some show what should be done (use more renewable energy and invest money), others show how it should be done (quickly and together).
wind and solar power: An obvious solution is to deploy much more wind and solar power.
renewable energy: Wind farms and other sources of renewable energy will help to reduce Co2 emissions to an acceptable level.
international action/cooperation: International action on climate change could have a significant impact.
quick/immediate action: Any action should be immediate because this is not a problem that can be delayed.
investment: There should be greater incentives to invest in renewables and to reduce the current reliance on fossil fuels.
decommission power stations: It goes without saying that coal-fuelled power stations should be decommissioned.
protest/campaign: Individuals can help force governments to act by taking part in legal protests against the continuing use of fossil fuels.
energy efficiency and waste: A greater emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing waste would undoubtedly mean that less fuel was consumed.
Ways of taking action
Climate change is a problem – that almost everyone can agree on. When you have a problem, you need to take action. These words and phrases give you a variety of ways of saying that. Note the different structures used with these verbs.
cope: It is clear that national governments are no longer able to cope by themselves with the problem.
tackle: A global solution is necessary as only international bodies will be able to tackle climate change.
avert: Investment in renewable energy will help avert the impact of the CO2 emissions.
prevent: The only way to prevent a disaster is to reduce these emissions to zero.
act/take action: Governments should take decisive action to halt global warming.
fight/combat: A way needs to be found to make combatting global warming that is affordable.
sustainable and affordable: The key is to ensure that all countries around the world have the chance to adopt energy
How individuals can help
You may be asked what we as individuals can do about climate change. Here are some ideas – there are plenty of them:
lobby MPs: If enough of us lobbied our MPs and other elected representatives then they would have to bring in legislation.
participate in peaceful protests: Another possibility is to take part in marches and other peaceful protests to apply pressure on governments and raise awareness of the issue..
community projects: In some areas there are small-scale community projects to encourage local residents to install solar panels and, in some places, help pay for them.
share transport: We also have the responsibility to consider how we contribute to global warming by making unnecessary car journeys. We can always cycle to work, have a joint school run with other parents and even share a car on the daily commute to work.
diet and our carbon footprint: Reducing food wastage is perhaps the way individuals can minimise their carbon footprint and so help global warming.
energy-efficient lightbulbs: Another small way in which we can use less energy is to switch to energy efficient lightbulbs.
solar panels: There are an increasing number of solar panels on the market and these can not only reduce energy bills but also mean that less carbon fuel is consumed.
heat insulation: Likewise, it is important that people insulate their houses well so that less gas and electricity is consumed.
Another way to get climate change vocabulary and ideas
One very smart thing to do is to put “Climate change” or “Global warming” or “Greenhouse effect” into Google and then click NEWS – that way you get much much better results. You can learn a lot by just reading what you see on the search page – without going into the news articles.
Other places to look for climate change vocabulary and ideas
Where next?Get more vocabulary and ideas for IELTS See an essay using this language