A deep-pocketed green energy group working to ban gas stoves in the United States counts as a top adviser a Chinese government official who has urged his nation to compete with America on climate change.
Climate Imperative, a green nonprofit with a nearly $1 billion budget thanks to funding from billionaires Laurene Powell Jobs and John Doerr, lists Chinese Academy of Sciences professor Wang Yi as a member of its advisory council. The group does not disclose, however, that Wang also serves in China's legislature, the National People's Congress. Wang even sits on the Congress's Standing Committee, according to a Chinese environmental research group to which he belongs. That committee consists of government insiders who wield state power to accomplish Communist Party goals when the full Congress is not in session.
With Wang as an adviser, Climate Imperative has awarded grants to the Building Decarbonization Coalition, another green nonprofit that works to "transition to clean buildings that don't run on gas." Climate Imperative executive director Bruce Nilles, meanwhile, in December outlined his goal to get "methane gas out of homes and buildings." "It turns out that fossil fuels and humans don't actually coexist very well," Nilles said.
It's unclear how much Wang has influenced Climate Imperative in the group's bid to do away with natural gas. Climate Imperative, which did not return a request for comment, says its advisers provide "independent, expert advice" to the group and do not "endorse or approve specific grants." Still, Climate Imperative is far from the only influential green group to partner with the Chinese. The Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based nonprofit that published a controversial December study attributing 13 percent of U.S. childhood asthma cases to gas-stove use, for years worked with China's National Development and Reform Commission to implement an "economy-wide transformation" away from oil and gas, the Washington Free Beacon reported in January.
In addition to his role as a Climate Imperative adviser, Wang advises the Chinese government on climate change through the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), a CCP-approved group that provides "policy recommendations to the Chinese government on environment and development." As a CCICED council member, Wang in a September 2020 policy report called climate change the "highlight of Sino-U.S. relations" and argued that if U.S. "efforts to combat climate change prevail," China will lose its "active, one-step-ahead position in global climate governance." As a result, Wang and his coauthors wrote, China should pursue "strategic competition" with the United States on climate change and "engage in dialogue and exchange with relevant U.S. entities."
Wang appears to be affiliated with the China Association for Promoting Democracy, a minor political party under the direction of the Communist Party that represents academics and holds seven seats on the National People's Congress Standing Committee. One expert of China's political system stressed that despite its name, the China Association for Promoting Democracy is not free from the CCP's grips.
"They are subservient to the CCP," the expert, who spoke on background to discuss the issue candidly, told the Free Beacon. "The idea is that they create these spin-off groups that are designed to appear to be independent in some kind of way from the CCP, when they're actually controlled and directed by the CCP."
Wang's ties to the CCP are also shown through his status as a CCICED member. The council's chairman is First Vice Premier Han Zheng, who from 2017 to 2022 served on the CCP's Politburo Standing Committee, which consists of the party's six highest-ranking leaders underneath President Xi Jinping.
Climate Imperative launched publicly in December 2021 with an annual budget of $180 million over five years, Axios reported. Given the group's new status, it has not yet published tax forms with the Internal Revenue Service, meaning it is not known exactly how much funding the group has received from Powell Jobs and Doerr. The "majority" of the group's sizable budget, however, comes from the two billionaires, according to energy reporter Robert Bryce.
Calls from green energy groups such as Climate Imperative and the Rocky Mountain Institute to ban gas stoves have intensified with President Joe Biden in the White House. Those calls gained serious traction within the federal government in January, when Biden-appointed Consumer Product Safety commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. told Bloomberg that "any option is on the table" when it comes to combating the "hidden hazard" of gas stoves. "Products that can't be made safe can be banned."
While the White House walked back those comments amid intense public backlash, green energy groups are moving full steam ahead in their crusade against natural gas. "More than 12 percent of U.S. childhood asthma is preventable," the Rocky Mountain Institute tweeted in January, "if we remove gas stoves from homes and move towards electric stoves instead."