Decades of economic growth have lifted millions of Chinese out of poverty—but at a cost, as the country’s air and water pollution have reached unprecedented levels. As the world’s largest fossil fuel consumer, China is keen to learn how other countries have approached tackling pollution and to address its pressing environmental challenges with cutting-edge solutions.
Since the mid 1990s, NRDC has 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. NRDC provides technical and legal expertise and recommends innovative policy solutions and best practices. We introduced much-needed energy efficiency approaches at a time when China’s rapid growth led to skyrocketing energy consumption and rampant power shortages. Years later, when electric vehicle (EV) sales began taking off, we anticipated the tremendous demand that millions of EVs would place on the power grid and began piloting innovative programs, including China’s first city pilot in Shanghai, where EV owners received incentives for managing their charging time in ways that support the power grid.
We’ve accomplished a lot since then. We helped develop China’s first green building codes and first demand-side policy for the grid. We facilitated a pioneering partnership on energy efficiency between California and Jiangsu province. When we noticed a gap in energy efficiency programs supporting small and medium-size companies (which account for more than 99 percent of all companies in China), we began an initiative to help these companies implement systems that monitor energy use and save money—systems now being adopted in multinational supply chains. We supported advancements in greening supply chains in China and policies that help make cities more sustainable.
Perhaps most significantly, we introduced environmental regulatory and information transparency practices that helped China improve its air and water laws as well as their enforcement. Our other essential work involves promoting China’s development of a comprehensive national parks system, implementation of pollution control at ports, and expansion of renewable energy storage capacity with the help of the world’s biggest fleet of electric vehicles, already three million strong.