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CO2, climate denier and eco-anxiety among new additions to Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford eco dictionary! ‘CO2’ and ‘climate denier’ are added to list of words ahead of Cop26 summit

  • Chemical formula for carbon dioxide, CO2, added to Oxford English Dictionary 
  • Update comes after OED broadened and reviewed its climate vocabulary in 2021
  • Joins a host of other climate-themed additions ahead of Cop26 climate summit 


CO2 – the chemical formula of carbon dioxide – has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary as part of an update ahead of the Cop26 climate summit.

Eco-anxiety – used to describe apprehension about current and future harm to the environment – and net zero – the balancing of greenhouse gas emissions with removals – are among other new terms to be added.

Climate denier and climate sceptic have also joined the list of terms. The uptake in electric vehicles is reflected in entries for range anxiety and smart charging.

The update comes after the OED started a project this year to broaden and review its coverage of vocabulary related to climate change and sustainability. 

CO2 – the chemical formula of carbon dioxide – has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary as part of an update ahead of the Cop26 climate summit. [File picture]

Trish Stewart, science editor at the OED, said: ‘The very real sense of urgency that is now upon us is reflected in our language.’

Other additions include climate justice, climate refugee and climate strike, in recognition of the youth protests led by Greta Thunberg.

Lexicographers have also traced existing climate-related words further back in time, tracking the term ‘climate change’ back to a US magazine article in 1854.

Eco-anxiety and net zero ¿ the balancing of greenhouse gas emissions with removals ¿ are among other new terms to be added. Pictured: A wind farm in Shetland, north Scotland

Eco-anxiety and net zero – the balancing of greenhouse gas emissions with removals – are among other new terms to be added. Pictured: A wind farm in Shetland, north Scotland

In the 1980s, the world was talking about the greenhouse effect, but that was quickly overtaken by global warming, and then both were eclipsed by the use of climate change which has seen sharp and steady growth over the past 40 years, the language experts said.

Now the language has become more urgent, with climate emergency, crisis and even catastrophe joining the lexicon, and seeing their use surge.

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