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Barbara Finamore, Senior Attorney and Asia Director, Beijing

Barbara Finamore

Came to NRDC in 1981 and spent five years suing the Department of Energy to clean up the radioactive and toxic waste from 50 years of nuclear weapons production. Then married a US diplomat and moved to Moscow, where our first son was born the day that Chernobyl blew up. Frightened by the potential impacts of radioactive exposure on my infant son, I signed up for a meeting with a group of experts brought from Washington by the US Embassy – only to find that they were the same “experts” I had spent years debunking in various lawsuits. My personal and professional lives have been intertwined ever since.

When we moved to Beijing in 1990, I was entranced to find that China was just awakening to the idea that sustainable development was in its own self-interest. Through the UN Development Programme, I was asked to help China develop the world’s first blueprint for sustainable development in the 21st century. I also met with representatives from 70 different Chinese government agencies and NGOs to figure out what they needed to achieve this goal.  But all along, I kept thinking about NRDC and how much it had to offer China, particularly in the area of clean energy and energy efficiency. When I returned to NRDC in 1995, I started our China Clean Energy Project (now China Program) and haven’t looked back since.  Now we have an office in Beijing and a staff of nearly two dozen people working on issues ranging from industrial efficiency, green buildings and smart growth to open information and environmental health.

Recent Posts

China, Climate and Coal: The UN Climate Summit

Posted September 24, 2014 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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During Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit in New York City, leaders from 125 nations, along with representatives from businesses, civil society and other institutions, convened and pledged to continue their efforts in fighting global climate change. Like many countries, China stopped...continued

Cleaning China's Smoggy Skies: China Released Draft Air Pollution Law Amendments for Public Comment

Posted September 11, 2014 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Health and the Environment

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Though a burst of clear skies on Monday allowed Beijingers to marvel at a magnificent Mid-Autumn Festival moon, a blanket of smog choked the capital the next morning, reminding citizens of China’s grave air pollution woes. However, that same Tuesday,...continued

New Weapons in the War on Pollution: China's Environmental Protection Law Amendments

Posted April 24, 2014 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China

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On Thursday, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, approved major amendments to the country’s Environmental Protection Law (EPL), the first since the law was enacted 25 years ago. These amendments are a game changer....continued

U.S. and China Agree on Concrete Action Steps Under the Joint Climate Change Working Group

Posted February 20, 2014 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China

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In his recent trip to China, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with government leaders in Beijing and came away with concrete steps that the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters can take together to address climate change. Both...continued

What is China's Reaction to the New IPCC Climate Change Report?

Posted September 27, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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The reaction of China's official media to the new IPCC climate change report  is unequivocal:   "It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has...continued

China Pledges to Tackle Air Pollution with New Plan

Posted September 13, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Health and the Environment, Solving Global Warming

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As China prepares to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional time for viewing the harvest moon, the government has announced a new plan that may make it easier to see the moon through the smog. On Thursday, the State Council,...continued

How Do You Get To Be The Most Energy Efficient Economy of the World?

Posted June 10, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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How do you get to be the most energy efficient economy in the world? That’s the subject of the new ACEEE International Scorecard Self-Scoring Tool, an analytic tool that helps users develop a high-level snapshot of the overall energy efficiency...continued

A Tale of Two Cities: Energy Efficient Buildings in New York and Hong Kong

Posted May 14, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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The Skyscraper Museum got it right.  Its 2009 exhibit, “Vertical Cities: Hong Kong and New York,” called these two cities – one my current home, one my hometown - the world’s “most similar skyscraper societies.”                    Top: The view...continued

Pedal to the Metal: Three Recommendations for The New U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group

Posted May 7, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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The new Joint-U.S. China Statement on Climate Change, signed during Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to China on April 13th, is extraordinarily symbolic because it recognizes that forceful cooperation and intensified action by the United States and China -...continued

How the U.S. and China are Reinvigorating the Battle Against Climate Change

Posted April 23, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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The new Joint U.S.-China Statement on Climate Change, signed during Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to China last week, is a remarkable document.  Using the strongest possible diplomatic language, the statement clearly displays a new sense of urgency about...continued

8 Ways that California and China Can Work Together to Reduce Pollution and Protect the Climate

Posted April 12, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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I was delighted to see that California Governor Jerry Brown has made climate change and environmental protection a key focus of his visit to China this week. In addition to discussing with China's Premier Li Keqiang the importance of collaboration...continued

In China The Kids Aren't Alright

Posted April 5, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Health and the Environment

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                                                                                                  Photo ©Gary Braasch Last fall, a startling new report revealed that air pollution caused an estimated 3.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2010. Now, thanks to a new analysis by our friends at the Health Effects Institute (HEI), we...continued

A Step Forward for Environmental Transparency in China

Posted March 29, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a gathering in China before.  Nearly one hundred people - including city, provincial and central government officials, business leaders and NGO representatives - met in Beijing yesterday to discuss their efforts to promote...continued

Will China's New Leaders Clean Up the Environment?

Posted March 25, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China

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I was trying to clean the coal dust from the windows of my dingy Beijing apartment one day in March 1992 when the phone rang with astonishing news. Nearly one-third of the delegates to the National People’s Congress had just...continued

Air Pollution in Hong Kong: Restoring the Fragrant Harbour

Posted March 17, 2013 by Barbara Finamore in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Health and the Environment

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Hazardous air pollution not only continues to plague much of China, but is now also stifling Hong Kong, the vibrant city whose Chinese name means “Fragrant Harbour.” Here is the view of Hong Kong that greeted me this weekend. It’s...continued

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