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The City of Sydney council has passed a motion that looks to introduce a new policy that will require new homes and businesses in the area to be gas free. 

The motion, moved by Councillor (Waskam) Emelda Davis, and seconded by Deputy Lord Mayor, Sylvie Ellsmore, will insert new clauses into the council’s planning rules to require new homes and businesses, including apartments, to include electric appliances like stoves, cooktops, heaters and hot water units, instead of gas ones.

According to new research conducted by Strategy Policy Research and commissioned by 350 Australia, the move could save every new household built in Sydney an average of $430 per year on their energy bills. This equates to more than $5,500 in today’s dollars over a typical 40-year life of a dwelling, totalling $256 million for all new homes across the city over the same period. At a state level, the savings are $3.7 billion for all new homes over the same period.

This move is also a win for the environment, which could save 1.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions compared with business as usual over 40 years, based on the same analysis. If every New South Wales council currently connected to the gas network followed Sydney’s lead, together they could avoid 24.1 million tonnes of carbon emissions over the same 40 year period.

The motion was in response to grassroots climate organisation 350 Australia’s ‘Electrify Your Council’ campaign, and came after Premier Chris Minns said he wouldn’t follow Victoria’s and the ACT’s lead in banning gas connections to new homes.

The Sydney Council motion follows Waverley and Parramatta Councils who recently passed new planning rules that prevent gas appliances in new homes and businesses.

According to 350 Australia, councils across NSW are likely to follow Sydney’s leadership.

350 Australia CEO, Lucy Manne, said that gas is a potent fossil fuel that is accelerating the intersecting human and ecological crises caused by a heating planet. 

“We need to end the age of fossil fuels now and we can start by eliminating toxic methane gas from our homes, shops and businesses,” Ms Manne said. 

“Only developers and gas corporations benefit from keeping our homes and businesses connected to gas.”

Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology and member of health advocacy organisation, Doctors for the Environment, Dr Ben Ewald, said that the flames of a gas stove or heater release toxic chemicals that cause asthma in susceptible people. 

“Everyone with a gas stove should open a window or turn on an extractor fan every time they light it. Not connecting to gas in the first place is a better option, as all uses of indoor gas now have a better electric alternative,” Dr Ewald said. 

New South Wales Campaigner for Healthy Futures, an alliance of health organisations, Bronwyn McDonald, said that a child living with a gas stove faces a similar asthma risk to a child exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke.

“To protect vulnerable people like children, the elderly and people with medical conditions, health professionals call on the state government to urgently phase out gas from buildings like homes, schools and hospitals.”

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