Elizabeth Economy has for decades studied something that used to be considered somewhat obscure, but today is very much in vogue: the relationship between Chinese politics and economy to climate change and the natural world. She is now a Senior Fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and she’s written a number of books and influential papers examining China and climate change.
She’s had a fascinating career. She started out specializing in Soviet studies and took a turn working as an analyst in the CIA before getting her PhD and launching her career studying China and the environment.
We kick off this conversation discussing China’s decision to join the consensus at the Paris Climate Talks, and we have an extended conversation about some pressing, yet under the radar ecological and environmental challenges that China is struggling to deal with.