Thinkers & Advocates

Barbara Finamore

The lawyer who sounded an early alarm on China's environmental crisis.

Asia Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

The New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) bills itself as the “first international nonprofit to launch a clean energy program in China.” That program, which senior attorney Barbara Finamore founded, was on to something; fast-growing China’s environmental woes have only worsened since, and the quality of air and water has become a governance issue with which Chinese authorities appear to be genuinely (if haltingly) trying to grapple.

Meanwhile, China has surpassed the United States as the world’s largest single source of carbon emissions; because carbon dioxide, once released, stays in the atmosphere in one form or another for millennia and exercises a huge effect on the world’s climate, reducing it has, at least until recently, become a zone of earnest cooperation between Washington and Beijing. NRDC had urged both the Chinese and U.S. governments to come to an agreement, and Finamore, who now directs all of NRDC’s Asia operations, has alternately praised China’s progress and chided it to wean itself from its still potent coal addiction. She must hope, of course, that the United States decides to hold up its end of the bargain as well.

(Photo Credit: CSIS)

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