Friends of the Earth Melbourne welcomes the release today of the second edition of the Victorian Gas Substitution Roadmap (VGSR).
The first edition of the VGSR released in July last year explicitly named fossil gas and recognised the household and climate savings that can be achieved when households and commercial buildings switch from gas to renewable energy for heating, hot water and cooking. However it disappointed when it fell short of describing a practical pathway out of gas for Victoria, the heaviest domestic gas using state in Australia.
Therefore hopes have been high amongst climate and energy analysts and campaigners for the second release to be more robust and ambitious in scope. The second edition of the VGSR is nearly that.
“This document is a small step in a direction we should be running towards. It is, unfortunately, neither a roadmap to reform nor does it propose powerful measures to make deep cuts to gas use in this, the highest domestic gas using state or territory in Australia even as climate impacts are increasingly felt by communities”, said Friends of the Earth No More Gas campaigner Freja Leonard.
“Following the release of the first Gas Substitution Roadmap we were so underwhelmed that we wrote our own version, the Community Gas Retirement Roadmap[i]. In it we offered 34 recommendations to actually remove gas from most common uses statewide.
“We are pleased that our longstanding recommendation to ban new gas connections for households has been in part adopted by Government in the past months and welcome the prospect that this ban could be extended to other new buildings. We also welcome the addition of efficient induction cooktops to the Victorian Energy Upgrades program and note that subsidies for new gas appliances were removed from the VEU offerings this year. But without a prominent public information campaign most Victorians won’t even know these are an option.
“The third of Victorian households that rent are doing it toughest of all. Rental affordability and standards are deep in crisis. The regulatory impact statement on rental fuel switching and efficiency standards proposed in this document should have been done years ago. Renters today won’t see the benefit of any policy reforms for years. We hope to see an efficient investigation into the options followed swiftly by meaningful action by the Allan Government.
“However Victoria’s leaky gas distribution system still urgently needs a plan to shut down in a way that is rapid, orderly and equitable. People are already switching from gas to renewable energy leaving those, like renters and very low income households, who aren’t in a position to disconnect from gas paying more in service charges to deliver an expensive, inefficient energy source to their homes”, said Ms Leonard
An exposed, rusting gas pipe in outer suburban Melbourne
“Through clever planning we can and must turn to energy efficiency upgrades and a shift to 100% renewable energy like there’s no tomorrow – otherwise there will literally be no tomorrow for a livable planet or affordable energy. We urgently need bold government action to help the state leave behind the hangover of bad gas policy as a matter of critical urgency.” Ms Leonard said.
“I’ll be keen to see the detail on the Hydrogen Park Murray Valley project and urge the Allan Government not to contemplate putting hydrogen, the finest and most leaky gas, into any pipeline system.”
“It’s great to see at least one government in Australia staring down the powerful and increasingly desperate gas and oil lobby following the hottest global year on record. We urge the Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to push forward with the necessary reforms to remove gas from Victoria’s energy system altogether, and as quickly as possible”, said Ms Leonard.