As in many other countries, protecting the environment and curbing the effects of climate change are currently two of the hottest topics in France. If you don’t brush up on your French environment vocabulary, you may have a difficult time exploring how the French approach these key issues in modern politics.
Par exemple: The environment is the primary issue and driving purpose behind the parti écologique (ecological party), often referred to as le parti écolo or les verts (the green). It’s also the raison d’être of Greenpeace, one of the most famous organisations non gouvernementales or ONG (non-governmental organizations or NGOs) in the world.
French environmental vocabulary regularly shows up in the media and in some of the most celebrated French documentaries. Even if you only have a quick look at the weather report, you may hear about higher-than-average temperatures or extreme weather events. To help you get acclimatized, we’ve compiled this guide to the most important vocabulary about the environment in French.
- 9 French terms about the ecology and climate change
- 13 French words around pollution and its effects
- 15 French words around solutions to protect the environment
9 French terms about the ecology and climate change
Before we wade further into the details, you’ll need to learn some basic terms to talk about the environment in French at a beginner’s level. Far from being limited to the fringes of the ecological movement, these key terms show up in the agendas of all the main political parties in France.
|la protection de la planète||the protection of the planet|
|le changement climatique||climate change|
|un écologiste||an environmental activist|
|la nature||the wilderness|
|le climat||the climate|
|la météo||the weather (for more on this, see our full article on how to talk about the weather in French)|
13 French words around pollution and its effects
Why is the environment such an important area of concern in France? As in the rest of the world, it’s because of the many dangers it faces. Here is some French vocabulary that describes the biggest culprits that put our planet at risk, from fossil fuels to greenhouse gasses.
|un pic de pollution||a pollution peak|
|un gaz à effet de serre||a greenhouse gas|
|un effet de serre||a greenhouse gas effect|
|un polluant||a pollutant|
|une empreinte carbone||a carbon footprint|
|une énergie fossile||a fossil fuel|
|la couche d’ozone||the ozone layer|
|un produit toxique||a toxic product|
|le réchauffement climatique||global warming|
|le changement climatique||climate change|
|un produit jetable||a disposable product|
|une catastrophe écologique||an ecological catastrophe|
|une marée noire||an oil slick|
|une espèce en voie d’extinction||an endangered species|
15 French words around solutions to protect the environment
Thankfully, not everything is hopeless. Solutions are being developed to reverse environmental degradation and protect the world’s ecosystems more effectively. At a micro level, every one of us is able to take daily actions to help. On a larger scale, countries around the world are learning that they must be more committed to taking action.
Every year, la Conférence des Parties (Conference of the Parties, or COP) gathers all the member states to review and advance the implementation of la convention-cadre des Nations unies sur les changements climatiques (The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Le protocole de Kyoto (the Kyoto Protocol) and l’Accord de Paris sur le climat (the Paris Climate Accords) are among the other significant steps taken in recent decades to improve the situation.
If you’re interested in reading up on the above initiatives in French, you’ll benefit from the vocabulary in the table below.
|un produit biodégradable||a biodegradable product|
|le développement durable||sustainable development|
|une énergie propre||clean energy|
|une énergie renouvelable||renewable energy|
|une énergie verte||green energy|
|une énergie durable||sustainable energy|
|une énergie solaire||solar energy|
|un panneau solaire||solar panel|
|une énergie éolienne||wind energy|
|une éolienne||wind turbine|
|faire le tri des déchets||to sort waste|
|un produit bio||an organic product|
Speak up about the environment in French
Now that you know the most important French vocabulary about the environment, you can start learning about and discussing more of these important issues. The French language — or any other language, for that matter — may not be understood everywhere in the world, but environmental issues are felt everywhere. The more we learn about and address the roots of the problems, the closer we get to implementing possible solutions.
Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries, such as hospitality and travel, as well as health and well-being. Settled down in London since the end of her university years, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.