Buildings in the central business district of Beijing, China, lit up at sunset

Buildings in the central business district of Beijing



China has made a serious commitment to turning its cities into healthier places to live and currently leads the world in renewable energy installation and electric vehicle penetration. But the planet’s most populous country still faces severe pollution, impacts from climate change, and other environmental challenges. The more the country uses its enormous reach to push for sustainable options, the more its residents—and the entire planet—will benefit.

NRDC has been supporting China’s sustainable development by providing technical and legal expertise for more than 20 years. Since the mid 1990s, we have been collaborating with a wide range of Chinese and international partners to facilitate exchanges and learning, develop innovative policy tools, and introduce and demonstrate best practices in energy efficiency, clean energy, pollution controls, wildlife conservation, and low-carbon urbanization.

  • As the first international nonprofit to launch a clean energy program in China, NRDC helped develop many of the nation’s firsts, among them energy codes for residential and commercial buildings, a research and development program for clean vehicles, and a utility-based initiative for energy conservation.
  • Our pilot efficiency programs in Jiangsu province were so successful that they inspired the central government to issue a national requirement that all grid companies invest in similar measures.
  • China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016–2020) established, for the first time, a mandatory target for decreasing the share of coal in total energy consumption. This was a direct reflection of the strategy we promoted—and NRDC energy experts are now designing policies to help the country meet this goal. We’re promoting ways to add more wind and solar to the grid and bring efficiency measures to more of the country’s industries.
  • After we studied China’s supply of and demand for mercury—a neurotoxin linked to cognitive delays in children and fertility problems—we helped to shape a plan for reducing mercury in the country.
  • We are working to help clean up China’s ports, which allow ships to use the dirtiest diesel fuel, by applying the lessons of some of our successful cleanup efforts, including those at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
  • NRDC helped draft and pass many of America’s most important environmental laws, and now we are helping China fortify its environmental regulations while training legal professionals in environmental litigation and advocacy.
  • NRDC has doggedly pursued wildlife conservation and bans on the ivory trade globally. In China, we supported studies of the legal barriers to an ivory ban. In a major victory for the conservation of elephants, the Chinese government shut down its legal commercial ivory trade on December 31, 2017.
China’s Environmental Awakening

NRDC began working in China more than 20 years ago to help reduce pollution, address the growing challenge of climate change, and protect natural resources. Since then, the world’s most populous country has become a world leader in wind and solar energy and electric vehicles. China is also actively combating illegal wildlife trade and unsustainable fishery practices. NRDC’s team of Beijing-based environmental professionals is celebrating the progress of the past and looking ahead to the future as the country has more to do over the next 20 years. Learn more:

Posted by NRDC on Monday, December 17, 2018

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