Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2019 is ‘climate emergency’

climates

(Markus Spiske, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Emma Charlton, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • “Climate crisis”, “climate denial” and “eco-anxiety” were also contenders
  • Use of “climate emergency” was 100 times more common in September 2019 compared with the previous year
  • Comes in a year that saw mass protests about the lack of action on global warming

“Climate emergency” has been chosen as the Oxford Word of the Year 2019, rounding off a year of soaring concerns about the consequences of global warming.

Defined as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”, use of “climate emergency” was 100 times as common in September 2019 compared with the previous year.

“This year, heightened public awareness of climate science and the myriad implications for communities around the world has generated enormous discussion,” the Oxford Dictionaries said. “Our research reveals a demonstrable escalation in the language people are using to articulate information and ideas concerning the climate. This is most clearly encapsulated by the rise of ‘climate emergency’ in 2019.”

A spike in use.
Image: Oxford Dictionaries

The choice of phrase underscores how the debate on climate and other green issues has shifted this year. In September, a wave of international protests took place demanding more action, while UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared it the “defining issue of our time”.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

What’s striking is the extent to which the other contenders for the title were also related to the environment. “Climate action”, “climate crisis”, “climate denial” and “eco-anxiety” also made the list, as well as “flight shame” – a reluctance to travel by plane, or discomfort at doing so, because of the damaging emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

“The word climate has been central to 2019 overall,” the Oxford Dictionaries said. “But climate emergency stands out for a number of reasons. Statistically speaking, this represents a new trend in the use of the word ‘emergency’.”

In 2018, “emergency” was most likely to be connected to health, hospital or family, suggesting situations of danger at a personal level. That changed in 2019, illustrating how the debate is being reframed, the Oxford Dictionaries said.

“Plant-based”, meaning a food or diet consisting largely of vegetables, grains or other foods derived from plants, rather than animal products, saw an increased frequency as the trend for vegetarianism and veganism accelerated.

Image: Oxford Dictionaries

“Coverage of the Amazon rainforest wildfires in August, for example, brought renewed attention to damaging farming practices driven by high global demand for beef and a surge of people talking about sustainable alternatives,” the Oxford Dictionaries noted.

The announcement came ahead of the latest UN Climate Change Conference (COP25), which is taking place in Madrid from 2-13 December. Political leaders and climate experts are gathering to discuss how more can be done to meet the world’s three key climate goals: reduce emissions by 45% by 2030; achieve climate neutrality by 2050; an stablize the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Markets can accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy

Decades of progress ‘can be wiped out overnight,’ UN chief laments at climate session in Yokohama

The sun’s impact on Earth and weather celebrated, as planet marks World Meteorological Day

The EU and North Korea: A Story of Underestimation

These countries are the most peaceful – in 3 charts

Is history a new NATO weapons against Russia?

Poliomielitis: climatic changes and impossibility in border control

A new bioeconomy strategy for a sustainable Europe

3 things to know about women in STEM

Businesses can lead a revolution in disability inclusion

Digital transformation and the rise of the ‘superjob’

This underwater restaurant teaches you about the ocean while you eat

The Parliament sets the way for the European Banking Union

Migration policy affects attractiveness of OECD countries to international talent

What have the banks done to the markets making them unable to bear cheap oil?

Climate resilience is make or break for businesses. Here’s why

EU budget for 2019: do more for the young, SMEs and the climate, urge MEPs

Chinese tech investors are turning towards MENA. Here’s why

Climate change helped destroy these four ancient civilisations

These are the challenges facing India’s most sacred river

Lessons in disaster relief from the world’s most cyclone-battered state

UN urges protection of indigenous peoples’ rights during migration

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

AI can be a game-changer for the world’s forests. Here’s how

Yemen: UN envoy asks Security Council for more support ‘to move back’ to the negotiating table

This massive project in Spain is the latest milestone in Europe’s solar power boom

Cultural Intelligence: the importance of changing perspectives

What happiness can teach us about how we measure human development

Venezuela: European Parliament calls for additional sanctions

A pandemic of solidarity? This is how people are supporting one another as coronavirus spreads

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Children are so hungry in one British town they are eating from bins

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Transport Industry Drive for Improved Energy Efficiency and Electro-Mobility to Stem High Growth of Emissions

How to make primary healthcare a favourable career choice for medical students: strategies and reflections

China rare earth prices soar on their potential role in trade war

How AI and machine learning are helping to fight COVID-19

A day in the life of a Venezuelan migrant in Boa Vista, Brazil

What makes Copenhagen the world’s most bike-friendly city?

Lack of investment and ambition means Youth Guarantee not reaching potential

What does a good digital ID look like?

Youth unemployment: think out of the box

European Banking Union: Like the issue of a Eurobond?

The Eurogroup has set Cyprus on fire

5 ways Denmark is preparing for the future of work

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

UN welcomes ‘record’ Brussels conference pledge of nearly $7 billion to support Syrians

US prosecutors now target Volkswagen’s top management, upsetting Germany

IMF: When high yield goes boom

Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain receive €279m after natural disasters in 2019

How I met the Panda Woman

Commission sets moderate greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030

Antitrust: Commission seeks feedback on commitments offered by Broadcom concerning TV set-top box and modem chipset markets

Brexit: the Withdrawal Agreement passes the first European Parliament test

Eurozone: There is a remedy for regional convergence

Amending Guatemala ‘reconciliation law’ would lead to unjust amnesty, warns Bachelet

Find unity ‘to halt Libya’s senseless unraveling’, UN envoy urges Security Council

Algorithmic warfare is coming. Humans must retain control

GSMA Outlines New Developments For MWC19 Shanghai

Parliament makes EU electricity market cleaner and more consumer-friendly

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s