Encourage a Greener China

Decades of economic growth have lifted millions of Chinese out of poverty—but at a cost: The country's air and water pollution have reached unprecedented levels. In 2010 alone, 1.2 million deaths were linked to air pollution, according to a study led by the Health Effects Institute. As the world's largest fossil-fuel consumer, China has acknowledged the need to move toward cleaner energy.

A container harbor in Hong Kong Holger Spiering/Westend61/Offset

NRDC encourages this by recommending innovative policy solutions, best practices, and technical and legal expertise to both policy makers and citizens. Since the mid-1990s, we have been working with local and international partners to help reduce pollution by increasing energy efficiency and clean energy, promoting low-carbon urbanization, and strengthening pollution control and environmental governance.

China's coal-fired power plants are the nation’s largest contributor to climate change and air pollution. As part of the China Coal Cap Project, NRDC is working with more than 20 leading Chinese government think tanks, research institutes, and industry associations to design a policy plan that will help the country cap its coal use by 2020.

Our experts also help reduce another enormous source of air pollution: China's shipping and ports. About 30 percent of the world’s container cargo volume passes through the country, which houses eight of the ten busiest ports on the globe. These container ships burn dirty fuel and pump out air pollution linked to respiratory illness and cancer. We are helping our local partners clean up several of China's ports by adapting the lessons we learned while working with ports in the United States and other countries. We are also calling on China to adopt regional or national emission-control areas that could cut shipping pollution by up to 95 percent.

To ensure that environmental laws and policies deliver on their promise, NRDC has a premier project in China focused on environmental law, information transparency, and public participation. We provide policy analysis and advice to government agencies so they can develop strong laws and regulations. Together with local partners, we have trained more than a thousand local judges, lawyers, governmental officials, and nonprofits to promote better environmental governance.

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