Gas Industry

Gas Industry

(Private Members Statement, 3 August 2023, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My constituents support a transition away from gas. The Northern Hemisphere's severe heatwave points to a devastating future of global boiling that will only be stopped with strong and fast emissions cuts. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sixth assessment report, its most comprehensive review of climate change, urges governments everywhere to stop burning fossil fuels before it is too late. New South Wales is working towards 100 per cent renewable energy supply under the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap to guarantee a clean, modern, efficient and affordable system by 2050 at the latest, but we have no road map away from gas.

Gas is a polluting fossil fuel predominantly made up of one of the most destructive greenhouse gases—methane—and produces other significant pollutants like nitrogen oxide. Methane leaks occur during the entire gas lifecycle, from extraction and transportation to use. Gas is increasingly being extracted from coal seams and shale layers using invasive methods like hydraulic fracturing and fracking with poisonous chemicals. The gas available for extraction is increasingly below agricultural and biodiverse land, putting our food bowl and threatened species at risk. Gas is a serious health and safety threat, particularly in the home, where it is associated with asthma and lung disease, especially among children. Earlier this year, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission indicated that a ban on new gas stoves could be considered due to health concerns.

Gas is not cheaper than renewable energy, with prices exposed to volatile global prices for liquified natural gas, which are not predicted to come down in the foreseeable future. Gas requires an additional connection fee to electricity. Analysis by the Climate Council estimates that households, on average, can save $1,000 a year by switching from gas to renewable energy and energy-efficient alternatives. The three household gas uses are heating, hot water and cooking. All have clean, green and economical alternatives.

Places with much cooler weather are phasing out gas, including the Netherlands, Norway, New York and Quebec. Reverse-cycle air conditioning is now the most efficient and affordable way to heat the home, and the greenest way when connected to renewable energy. There have been advancements in hot water with solar hot water, electric instantaneous and heat pump systems all providing alternatives. Even cooking with gas is out of vogue with world famous chefs endorsing induction cooking as the more precise way to cook. Today I co-hosted an electric barbecue at which hatted chef Danielle Alverez created superb dishes without gas. She is part of a coalition of chefs, doctors, climate scientists and real estate developers working towards removing gas from kitchens worldwide under the Global Cooksafe Coalition. Coalition ambassadors include other great Sydney chefs like Neil Perry, Christine Mansfield, Palisa Anderson and Clayton Wells.

We must establish a road map to transition homes and businesses. Gas companies are currently quoting over $1,000 to disconnect freestanding homes, and replacing appliances and equipment is costly. As more people disconnect, the cost of running the gas network will increase and those left will be paying even more when they have less means. Renters are especially vulnerable because they cannot make the necessary changes to their homes. Support for low-income earners and incentives for rental properties will be needed. We need to stop gas connections in new homes. Those gas connections will become obsolete, creating significant future challenges and costs for owners and residents, particularly in apartments.

The transition must include extraction. Mining is the only industry in New South Wales that has rising emissions and we will not get to net zero with a business-as-usual approach. I am especially worried that we are set to destroy the vital Liverpool Plains food bowl to extract an archaic, dying and unnecessary fossil fuel. During the caretaker period, government authorities signed off on the reactivation of coal seam gas wells in the plains that risk draining the water from the artesian basin—water we rely on to grow food that feeds the country, and indeed the world. That we would contemplate such a threat to a vital source of life demonstrates the absurdity of our relationship with gas. It is time to break up.

Victoria will ban new gas connections in homes next year and has a Gas Substitution Roadmap with incentives to switch to efficient electric appliances. The ACT Government has set a date to transition away from gas to renewable electricity by 2045 and has an issues paper on preventing new gas connections. New South Wales needs a modern, clean and sustainable energy network that does not include the use of gas. I call on the Government to establish a road map to transition the State away from gas to full renewable electrification.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!