In a groundbreaking move towards a greener future, Victoria, the second-most populous state in Australia, has announced its decision to prohibit natural gas connections in new homes starting next year. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to reduce emissions and decrease energy costs, as stated by the state’s Climate Action Minister.
Victoria, which is Australia’s largest consumer of natural gas with about 80% of homes connected, has set ambitious goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, five years ahead of the federal government’s target. Climate Action Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced on Friday that new homes requiring planning permits must connect to all-electric networks from January 2024. This move is significant as the gas sector contributes to 17% of the state’s emissions.
D’Ambrosio emphasized the importance of reducing gas reliance to meet their ambitious emission reduction target and to transition more Victorians to efficient electric appliances, which will result in savings on their bills. The changes will apply to all new public buildings yet to reach the design stage, including housing, schools, and hospitals.
This plan comes at a time when southeastern Australia is facing potential gas shortages from mid-decade as output from offshore fields, operated by Exxon Mobil Corp, declines. However, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association argues that the ban will merely shift households to the coal-based electricity grid, doing little to help the climate. They point out that power generation in Victoria, heavily dependent on coal, accounts for about half of the state’s carbon emissions.
Despite these criticisms, the non-profit Rewiring Australia supports the move, stating that “electrification is the fastest and most cost-effective way to shave thousands of dollars a year from energy bills and lower our emissions.” This announcement follows Australia’s recent finalization of a package of rules for the domestic gas market, including a cap on wholesale prices.