During President Obama’s second term in office, the United States and China reached several agreements aimed at curbing each country’s greenhouse emissions, a major factor in climate change. Following years of stalemate, the partnership between the world’s two largest economies and emitters paved way for the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement. However, much of this progress remains in question following President Trump’s decision in 2017 to withdraw the United States from the multinational accord. As the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita, the full withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement has cast doubt on the ability of the international community to combat climate change successfully, and was seen by many as a full retreat of American leadership.

However, in a new book, Will China Save the Planet? author Barbara Finamore explains that under Xi Jinping, China has emerged as the leader in environmental governance, and has the potential to fill the void left by the United States. On November 28, Ms. Finamore discussed her book, and explored how China overcame internal obstacles to transform itself into a pioneer in the clean energy revolution.  

Barbara Finamore is a senior attorney and Asia director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Ms. Finamore founded NRDC’s China Program, which promotes innovative policy development, capacity building and market transformation in China with a focus on climate, clean energy, environmental protection and urban solutions. Ms. Finamore has had 35 years of experience in environmental law and energy policy, focusing on China for over two decades. She has also worked in NRDC’s nuclear nonproliferation program, at the U.S. Departments of Justice and the Interior, and as a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme and the Center for International Environmental Law.