Robert Bryce has written a disturbing essay about the Climate Imperative Foundation, which received $221 million in donations in its first year of operations. The donors include Steve Jobs’s widow, as well as Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, and their priority is to ban natural gas, starting with your gas boiler. All very well for private-jet-owning billionaires, Bryce argues, but what impact will the ban have on working-class communities? Here’s how it begins.
The Climate Imperative Foundation is the newest and richest anti-hydrocarbon, anti-natural gas group you’ve never heard of.
How rich is Climate Imperative? According to the latest report from Guidestar, the group took in $221 million in its first full year of operation. (Guidestar calls the income “gross receipts”.) That means that Climate Imperative, which is less than three years-old, is already taking in more cash than the Sierra Club, which bills itself as the “nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organisation”. According to Guidestar, the Sierra Club collected $180 million in its latest reporting year. Climate Imperative is also taking in more money than the Rocky Mountain Institute which collected about $130 million in its latest reporting year. I use those groups for comparison because they are pushing anti-gas initiatives across the country. More on them in a moment.
The emergence of Climate Imperative – which has received virtually no attention from legacy media outlets – is important for several reasons.
First, it shows that the effort to “electrify everything” and ban the use of natural gas in homes and businesses – and that includes gas stoves — is part of a years-long, lavishly funded campaign that is being bankrolled by some of the world’s richest people.
Second, despite numerous claims about how nefarious actors are blocking the much-hyped “energy transition”, the size of Climate Imperative’s budget provides more evidence that the NGO-corporate-industrial-climate complex has far more money than the pro-hydrocarbon and pro-nuclear groups. Indeed, the anti-hydrocarbon NGOs (most of which are also stridently anti-nuclear) have loads of money, media backing, and momentum. As can be seen in the graphic below, the five biggest anti-hydrocarbon NGOs are now collecting about $1.5 billion per year from their donors. (All data is from Guidestar.) That sum is roughly three times more than the amount being collected by the top five non-profit associations that are either pro-hydrocarbon or pro-nuclear.
Third, banning the direct use of natural gas in homes and businesses may be worse for the climate. You read that right. Burning gas directly allows consumers to use about 90% of the energy contained in the fuel. Using gas indirectly – by converting it into electricity and then using that juice to power a heat pump, stove, or water heater – wastes more than half of the energy in the fuel. That point was made by Glenn Ducat, in his excellent new book, Blue Oasis No More: Why We’re Not Going to ‘Beat’ Global Warming and What We Need To Do About It. Ducat is a Ph.D. nuclear engineer who worked at Argonne National Lab, as well as at two electric utilities. He explains: “Burning natural gas by residential commercial and industrial customers is at least twice as efficient and emits about half as much CO2 as processes that use electricity produced from fossil fuels. Converting process-heat applications to electricity before the electricity grid is completely carbon-free will increase CO2 emissions.” (Emphasis in the original.)
Worth reading in full.