Monica NAGASHIMA graduated with a dual master’s degree in international relations (from Peking University) and environment and energy policy (from Sciences Po).  With a passion for decarbonizing energy systems, Monica believes her study abroad experience in Beijing allowed her to gain important new insights on how to approach energy transition within the current global landscape.

Monica almost relinquished her opportunity to study in China.  After being accepted to the Sciences Po-PKU Dual Master’s Degree program, her family initially urged her not to go to China for fear of the pollution and anti-Japanese sentiment.  Ultimately, her strong desire to travel and further her knowledge prevailed, and she was able to pursue her studies with her family’s blessing.

While in Beijing, a Peking University professor encouraged Monica not to settle for simply acquiring general knowledge about the world at large, but to take advantage of her time in China to truly explore and understand the country in depth.  “I tried to see the parts of China that don’t get daily coverage from international media outlets,” she says.  This mindset opened her eyes to different aspects of China, from its advancements in renewable technology to areas where it has struggled to transition to clean energy.  On a more personal level, Monica recalls her shock at coming face to face with the anti-Japanese sentiment her family warned her about when she encountered a restaurant sign that read, “Japanese and dogs not allowed.”  However, being immediately comforted by her Chinese friends, who reassured her that most do not think this way, completely changed her viewpoint on the situation.  “Their warmth and kindness almost made me cry,” she says.

Monica currently works at an energy think tank in Tokyo and assisted the chair of the G20 Meetings on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth, which were held in Japan in June 2019.  Armed with a new awareness of the challenges a country might face in clean energy transition, she believes she now has a better understanding of the concerns of delegates from countries still dependent on fossil fuels.  What’s more, she is pleased to report that her time in Beijing may have shifted her family’s views on China.  “I was surprised to hear my mother say, ‘You seemed so happy in China, it makes me want to visit Beijing some day too.’”