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Natural Resources Defense Council


Barbara Finamore's Blog



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.

Roots in:
New York, Moscow, Beijing, Taiwan, Washington, New Hampshire, Bishkek
Favorite place:
When you travel constantly and move homes every 2-3 years, roots take on an almost mystical meaning. I have been visiting a majestic weeping willow tree by a brook in my hometown for over 35 years. The tree was cut down long ago, but I still visit.
Why "environmentalism" matters:
Come to Beijing and I’ll show you.

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