NRDC’s China program aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the world’s most populous country and protect its natural environment and public health. We recommend, develop, and help implement innovative laws, policies, technologies, and market tools that curb pollution and accelerate China’s transition to a clean, low-carbon economy.

We look for opportunities to collaborate with local and international partners in order to find solutions that are applicable and replicable in China. Our overarching approach is to help the country expand and improve its environmental governance, policy-making, and enforcement through strengthening environmental and clean energy policy and law, public participation, and stewardship of both governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders.

Issue Brief

Paris Climate Conference: China

We promote energy efficiency as the cleanest, fastest, and most cost-effective path to cutting carbon pollution. We scale up clean energy deployment and delivery in a safe, efficient, and reliable manner. We collaborate with top Chinese research institutes to recommend the adoption of aggressive coal consumption caps, which can significantly cut carbon pollution and improve air quality and help China peak its carbon emissions before 2030. We also support low-carbon urbanization that emphasizes land use efficiency, green buildings, public transportation, walkability, and low-impact infrastructure.

Recognizing the dual benefits of cutting carbon and conventional pollution, we help the private sector green its supply chains—including working with multinational companies like The Gap and H&M to reduce carbon emissions and water use in Chinese textile factories. We provide international expertise and best practices related to reducing the air pollution caused by China’s ports and shipping industry. We also collaborate with local environmental groups to decrease toxic chemical pollution, especially as it relates to mercury and lead-acid batteries.

We are also stepping up efforts in ecological conservation by supporting better policies for reducing illegal wildlife trade and increasing sustainable fisheries.


  • Enhancing environmental governance
  • Addressing climate change
  • Promoting low-carbon urbanization
  • Reducing pollution
  • Decreasing illegal wildlife trade and unsustainable fishing practices



Which of China’s key cities are the most transparent about pollutants and pollution sources?


The rapid speed of China's urbanization has negatively affected the country's natural environment.

Issue Brief

Our China Coal Consumption Cap Project presents a comprehensive roadmap to help China peak its coal consumption by 2020.


China is home to seven of the world's ten busiest container ports. About 26 percent of the world's containers pass through the top ten Chinese ports every year. Every ship and truck brings pollution along with its cargo, and China is paying a high price for pollution from shipping.


Less Environmental Impact with Bigger Profits


As China undergoes a transition into low-carbon energy, cities like Shanghai must work through the challenges of integrating intermittent renewables and electric vehicles to their system operations and networks.