Thursday 4th August 2022

The Conservation Council ACT Region today welcomed the ACT Government’s commitment to phase out fossil gas, and transition to an all-electric city on their pathway to zero net emissions by 2045. The ACT is the first jurisdiction in Australia to make this commitment and it is a significant recognition of the 20% contribution that gas makes to the ACT’s greenhouse emissions.

“The Conservation Council congratulates the ACT Government on the decision to phase out fossil gas fully, and electrify Canberra’s energy system,” said Helen Oakey, Executive Director.

“It is a forward looking policy that will provide clear guidance to households and businesses alike that change is coming, and that the sooner we adjust, the easier the transition will be.

“To transition away from fossil gas is an ambitious policy for a cold-climate city that has the second highest use of gas per capita, and 131,550 households and businesses connected to Canberra’s gas network.

“However, phasing out fossil gas for heating, cooking and hot water is very doable given the alternative technologies that are available, and the good news is that those technologies are often more efficient, cleaner, and can save money on energy bills.

“Heat pump technology can deliver energy into homes much more efficiently than resistance appliances, and new appliances such as induction cooktops can provide accurate, clean, and efficient cooking options.

“Households are already getting off gas as they understand the benefits, with 33% of homes already all-electric and 75% of gas-fired homes already considering or switching one or more gas appliances to electric.

“While the up-front costs can be off putting for some households, new appliances can reduce running costs for homeowners by cutting energy bills significantly. However, it will be important for the ACT Government to continue support for low income households through the transition.

“The Conservation Council is pleased that the ACT Government has made a clear decision not to replace fossil gas with biogas or hydrogen as a long-term solution. The production of biogas at scale is not a realistic option to replace fossil gas across the Territory’s gas network, and can still have climate impacts. Substituting hydrogen produced using renewable energy is also a highly inefficient way of delivering energy into our homes when we can power them directly with renewables. There will be other uses for green hydrogen that don’t include the residential network.

“Today’s announcement indicates that the Government will set in place rules in 2023 to prevent new developments from hooking up to the gas grid. We would urge all developers and home builders to move ahead of this timeline, and stop new builds with gas connections right now.

“This is essential – both from a “do no more harm” perspective on climate change, but also because of the future expense transitioning properties off the gas network over the next two decades compared to building all-electric now.

“The ACT is once again leading other states and territories on climate action, and this decision should resonate around Australia. It must also send a strong message to the Federal Government who should stop supporting new fossil gas developments in Australia,” said Ms Oakey.