China Goes Green

Publication Type
Works by Faculty
Publication Date
Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Environmental activists the world over are increasingly looking to China as a model of effective state-led environmentalism, concentrating decisive political, economic, and epistemic power to meet critical environmental goals. But through top-down initiatives, regulations, and campaigns to mitigate pollution and environmental degradation, the Chinese authorities also promote control over the behavior of individuals and enterprises, pacification of borderlands, and expansion of Chinese power and influence across the developing world, and even into outer space. Given the limited time that remains to mitigate climate change and protect millions of species from extinction, we need to consider whether coercive green policymaking can show us the way. China Goes Green explores both its promises and risks. 

“This project is a combination of our years of research and reading into China's environmental protection policies, both independently at the beginning, and then collaboratively in more recent periods,” said Li, who co-authored China Goes Green with Judith Shapiro of American University. 

“Our sources are environmental officials, journalists, scientists and even individual garbage collectors in the city of Shanghai. Getting to know these people has made me so much more sensitive to why environmental problems are so complex,” Li said. “There is no silver bullet. What solutions China has found are the result of very hard work by tens of thousands of real women and men in this country.”

About the Author:

Yifei Li is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at NYU Shanghai, and Global Network Assistant Professor at NYU.

Yifei Li and Judith Shapiro