The Negotiation

In this episode of The Negotiation, we talk with Barbara Finamore, author of “Will China Save the Planet?” and Founder and Senior Strategic Director, Asia, at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Obviously this show was all about pollution in China but that’s where the obvious stops. We do take a walk down memory lane of how China got to where they are today, but we also discuss China massive investments in cleantech, wind power, solar power, and electric vehicles as well, all huge investments that dwarf the rest of the world, innovations that the rest of the world will likely and gladly adopt en mass as soon as possible. I ask Barbara’s opinion on local concern levels around pollution in China and whether those concerns change as we go up the demographic scale, and we talk about whether Chinese local citizens conflate or are able to separate conditions like smog from fog. We also discuss how informed and motivated the general populace is around hot topics such as pollution and climate change. Barbara has been squarely positioned at the center of the energy sector in China for 30 years and was a fascinating interviewee on these topics and more, most of which are front and center amongst foreigners when thinking about China. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Barbara Finamore, Senior Strategic Director for Asia at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the author of Will China Save the Planet (2018). She started her career with the NRDC as an environmental litigator, a position she left after getting married to a U.S. diplomat in the 1980s. Her husband took her to China in 1990, when the country was considering its earliest initiatives for sustainable development.
Barbara was there to witness first-hand the country’s signing of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as the drafting of the world’s first sustainable development blueprint for the 21st century, known as Agenda 21. Since the mid-1990s, Barbara has been heading the NRDC’s energy program in China.
Says Barbara: “I got hooked on the challenges that China faced and getting to know the people who were working to address those challenges, many of whom became leaders in China’s energy and climate policy.”
China’s environmental problems took off alongside its rapid economic growth in 2001 when the country joined the WTO. Its performance during that decade would earn China the moniker of being the world’s “economic miracle”.
China’s most valuable commodity during this period? Coal: the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel and the leading source of CO2 emissions in the world, as well as the source of China’s devastating air pollution. Coal was the cause of 2013’s “airpocalypse”, during which time the Chinese citizens were breathing in an equivalent of one-and-a-half cigarettes per hour every day. In 2018, China launched its Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan which intends to cut down coal use.
COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on China’s energy and environmental sectors. Chinese citizens have become less willing to take public transit due to crowding. There is a greater interest in private vehicles (which will have negative effects on climate change in the long run). The government has increased its focus on electric vehicles as essential to its long-term industrial transformation—a major element in its “new infrastructure” initiative (other elements include 5G and artificial intelligence).
In the short-term, the Chinese government is taking steps to ease its environmental controls on gasoline-powered engines since the automotive industry as a whole is a pillar industry in China, being responsible for some 10% of jobs and nearly 10% of all retail sales.

What is The Negotiation?

Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.

The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.