Not Your Grandfather's Nature Writing: The New "Nature" Journals by Andrea J. Nolan at Fiction Writers Review deals with contemporary nature writing in general. Something jumped out at me relating to environmental fiction.
"But then how do you define environmental, or place-based, fiction?" First, defining environmental fiction has been an issue here at the Environmental Book Club. But the answer to Nolan's particular version of the question appears to be there in the question. It's place-based fiction. It's fiction that's strong fictional element (character, plot, voice, setting, point of view) is setting.
This makes sense to me, especially when you consider that setting includes time as well as, well, place. Futuristic post-environmental disaster worlds like you see in The Uglies series are about setting. A big part of the reason Carl Hiaason's books are considered environmental is the strong sense of place that is created with his Florida settings. What kept The Carbon Diaries 2015 from being just another whiney teenage story was the...wait for it...setting.
Nolan suggests that "we should use John Gardner’s definition of great fiction as our
benchmark. He said that the hallmark of successful writing is the
creation of “a vivid, continuous dream.”" That dream could be the experience I look for in an environmental book. Setting is a a big part of that continuous "dream" experience.