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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 Commits to Significant New Climate Actions in U.S.-China Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change

Posted September 25, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama announced new and strengthened actions by both countries domestically and working together as part of a joint presidential statement on climate change (see the White House Factsheet and Presidential Statement). These commitments build on...continued

How China is Taking Major Steps to Control Shipping Air Pollution

Posted September 2, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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In a series of announcements over the weekend and on Monday, the Chinese government took several important steps to control emissions from shipping activities, which until now have been virtually unregulated. Vessels and ports are major sources of the...continued

How does China's climate pledge stack up?

Posted July 1, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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As mentioned in a post on Carbon Pulse, China's climate pledge will require the country to make very significant changes to its emissions trajectory - including adding non-fossil power equivalent to the entire U.S. power generating capacity by 2030. When...continued

How Capping Coal Can Help China to Peak its CO2 Emissions by 2025 and Contribute to the Fight Against Climate Change

Posted June 12, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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[View from NRDC's Beijing office/Barbara Finamore] Nearly 80 percent of China's energy-related CO2 emissions come from coal. That's why putting a lid on coal is the single most important step China can take to protect itself - and the...continued

China Power Sector Reform Plans Aim To Boost Energy Efficiency and Renewables

Posted May 26, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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[Tangshanpeng Wind Farm/Land Rover Our Planet] China's drive for a cleaner and more efficient energy grid received a boost in April when the Chinese government issued four documents on power sector reform. The documents, which were published in rapid succession,...continued

China's National Coal Cap Policy Could Save Nearly 50,000 Lives and $6.2 billion Every Year by 2020

Posted April 24, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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China's proposed national policies to curb coal use will provide enormous air quality and health benefits to the public and coal industry workers, saving 49,000 lives and $6.2 billion in 2020, according to a new study (Chinese version here) released...continued

China's War on Pollution Is Gaining Traction

Posted March 27, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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Beijing just announced that it will close the last of its four major coal-fired power plants in 2016, avoiding an estimated 30 million tons of carbon. This welcome step, carried out as part of China's national Air Pollution Action Plan,...continued

Hong Kong Once Again Leading the Way in the Fight to Control Shipping Emissions

Posted March 20, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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[Contribution of marine emissions to the total emission profile of Hong Kong, 2012 data/The Prevention and Control of Shipping and Port Air Emissions in China] Hong Kong has just taken another giant step towards controlling marine emissions, the major...continued

China's Coal Use and Estimated CO2 Emissions Fell in 2014

Posted February 27, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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[Backyard in Datong with coal/Peter Van den Bossche] Good news! China's coal consumption fell by 2.9 percent in 2014, the first drop in 14 years, according to official Chinese energy statistics released yesterday. Glen Peters of the Global Carbon...continued

United States to Provide Air Quality Data Overseas

Posted February 19, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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Happy Spring Festival! Secretary Kerry and EPA Administrator McCarthy Sign Agreement to Launch Innovative International Air Quality Program [State Department photo/ Public Domain] Yesterday, the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new partnership that will monitor air...continued

How China's Top Court is Encouraging More Lawsuits Against Polluters

Posted January 26, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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As China's toxic air pollution once again surges off the charts, affecting every aspect of people's daily life [see this moving video just released by Greenpeace], China's highest court is taking action. On January 6th, the Supreme People's Court (SPC)...continued

SOTU and the U.S.- China Climate Change Agreement

Posted January 22, 2015 by Barbara Finamore

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On Tuesday, January 20, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union 2015 address. We at NRDC were excited to see President Obama focus so much attention on climate change in his speech, which the White House made available...continued

Three Key Questions About China's Climate Commitments

Posted December 8, 2014 by Barbara Finamore

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China's announcement that it will cap its carbon pollution by 2030 - earlier if possible­­­­­ - and increase the share of non-fossil fuel in its primary energy mix to 20% by the same year, represents a major departure from China's...continued

Another Major Climate Breakthrough: China Will Cap its Coal Consumption by 2020

Posted November 21, 2014 by Barbara Finamore

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Hard on the heels of last week’s historic US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change, in which China pledged for the first time to cap its CO2 emission by 2030, China’s State Council has just announced a new energy strategy action...continued

A New Flank in China's War on Pollution? Controlling Emissions from Ports and Shipping

Posted October 28, 2014 by Barbara Finamore

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As President Obama and other Asia-Pacific leaders gather in Beijing for the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, climate change and air pollution will undoubtedly be on the agenda. This summit therefore provides an important opportunity for these leaders to address...continued


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