City council endorses ban on gas connections in all new buildings and welcomes a state-wide mandate.

Figure 1: Impact on overall emissions through electrification of residential gas demand in Victoria (Source FFCRC, ENA Analysis).

Sydney council proposes huge change for all new homes and buildings

The move has been lauded by environmentalists — but not everyone is impressed.

The City of Sydney says it “welcomes” a ban on gas connections in all new buildings built within the council’s borders, but has confirmed it has not formally approved such a move.

At a Council meeting last night, it was “resolved that staff would investigate additional options” to reduce gas use, “including changes to planning rules”. No official ban has been formally implemented. It had been incorrectly reported on Tuesday morning that a ban had agreed on.

A spokeswoman for the City of Sydney told Yahoo News Australia on Tuesday that though no formal prohibition was voted on, a ban would be “welcomed” and endorsed.

“The City would welcome a state-wide mandate on banning gas connections by the NSW Government, as has been done in Victoria,” the spokeswoman said.

Aerial general views of Anzac Bridge on May 10, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

There will be no more new gas connections installed within the City of Sydney council. Source: Getty

“The City is committed to having net zero emissions in our area by 2035. Reducing fossil fuels is a key part of this. Until this happens, we’re looking at other ways we can electrify residential homes and reduce new gas connections within the City of Sydney.

“In a climate emergency we need to do everything we can to reduce carbon emissions.”

The news comes after Waverley Council did formally ban gas in new buildings in June, and after Parramatta banned new residential and commercial buildings from installing gas in the city centre in 2021.

Gas ban could save households $430 a month

The idea has been welcomed by health professionals and climate change organisations, with new analysis conducted by Strategy Policy Research showing the move could save new households an average of $430 per year on their energy bills. This translates to more than $5,500 over an average 40-year life of a dwelling, totalling $256 million for all new homes across the city over the same period.

It’s expected a ban on gas on new buildings could also reduce emissions across the city by 1.7 million tonnes over a 40-year period.

The motion to explore options to ban gas — put forward by Councillor Emelda Davis and seconded by Deputy Lord Mayor Sylvie Ellsmore — passed with support from eight out of 10 votes, according to 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

Victorian and ACT governments have all recently made the decision to ban gas in new buildings. NSW Premier Chris Minns has refrained from implementing a state-wide ban.

Gas linked to asthma in kids, data shows

Randwick Council, which borders on Sydney, is also set to debate the topic in a meeting tonight.

Critics of the move to electric-only say it could result in an increase in power bills and emissions, with some in the hospitality industry in particular claiming gas is vital for cooking.

Flames emerge from burners on a gas stove.

New analysis shows that the move could save new households an average of $430 per year on their energy bills. Source: AP

Data published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health late last year found that almost 13 per cent of childhood asthma cases in the US could be linked back to gas stove use, which experts revealed was equal to secondhand smoking.

Authorities on home soil put the link down to nitrogen dioxide, an airway irritant that is a byproduct of gas stoves burning methane, according to the Australian Journal of General Practice.

“Children are 1.3 times more likely to develop asthma in a home with a gas cooktop due to emissions. That is comparable to the risk of tobacco smoking in the home,” Asthma Australia chief executive Michele Goldman said.

Scientists from the University of Queensland made similar findings back in 2018.

City chefs concerned over move away from gas

While many have praised the move, some have branded the proposed ban as “nonsense” and “out-of-touch”.

“I think that commercial development relies on the ability to be able to lease or sell their shopfronts to a broad range of businesses, not just hair dressers and nail salons,” Liberal councillor at Randwick, Christie Hamilton, said on 2GB. “They want to be able to advertise them for restaurants, and they won’t be able to do that.”

Chef Luke Mangan, who is about to open a new restaurant in Potts Point, said the move is “quite concerning”.

“You do (need to cook with gas) — it’s quicker and easier in a commercial space. I get we have to lower emissions and things like that, but seriously if you think about all these small businesses around the state and the country… small business is under the pump already, everything has gone up, these businesses can’t keep putting prices up,” he said. “So, it’s a real problem.”

Similar to banning asbestos, energy expert says

Stefan Jarnason, energy expert and CEO of Solar Analytics, had the opposite view.

“Sadly this seems to fall along traditional ideological lines,” Jarnason told Yahoo News Australia.

“Environmentalists praise the move because it is the fastest way to make the energy transition. The gas companies and other entrenched incumbents are against the move as they want to protect their profits.

“The gas companies and other entrenched incumbents are against the move as they want to protect their profits.”

“In my view, banning gas in new homes is like mandating adequate insulation. It protects consumers from buying a home that will be excessively expensive to heat and cool. Gas cooking has been shown to have adverse health impacts (this is why gas heaters are banned in bedrooms), so banning gas is similar to banning asbestos.

“For consumers, many people are used to and prefer cooking with gas. However, few have tried cooking on a new electric induction cooktop that is faster, more controllable, safer and easier to clean. This is why the ACT and WA ran programs to show people about cooking with new induction cooktops.”

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