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Paying Aussies to pollute - Peak environment groups denounce Jemena Energy for incentivising gas switch

2nd June 2023
Paying Aussies to pollute - Peak environment groups denounce Jemena Energy for incentivising gas switch

While the Victorian and NSW state governments are implementing policies designed to break Australia's toxic gas addiction, one gas company is blatantly undermining these programs by offering customers cash incentives to switch appliances in their homes to polluting methane gas. 

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC) and Environment Victoria, the leading environmental advocacy organisations from both states, have today criticised Jemena Energy for ‘gaslighting’ action on climate change by incentivising further burning of gas. 

In the midst of a climate crisis, Jemena is offering financial incentives for NSW customers to switch everyday appliances from electricity to gas, while misleading the public about the benefits, impacts and future viability of methane gas as an energy source.[1]  

“Gas is a fossil fuel that is a major contributor to the climate crisis”, Dr Brad Smith, NCC Policy and Advocacy Director said today. “Jemena is locking in carbon pollution by continuing to connect appliances in homes to fossil fuel gas infrastructure.”

"Every new appliance connected to gas locks in decades of guaranteed profits for Jemena, and decades of pollution for the rest of us. This company knows that its customers could save money and reduce pollution by switching to electric appliances, yet it is trying to lock people into a more expensive and destructive source of energy" Smith also said. 

Bronya Lipski, Environment Victoria’s Policy and Advocacy Manager said that with winter temperatures dropping and gas bills rising, both states need a bold plan that supports everyone to electrify their homes, ensuring no one is left behind.

“In Victoria, the State government is offering initiatives through its Solar Victoria and Victorian Energy Upgrades programs to help people transition away from gas to energy efficient electric homes. But in NSW, this perverse scheme from Jemena is undermining such progress.” 

“Across the country, people are waking up to the dangers of methane gas and the opportunity that electrifying our lives brings to cut climate pollution and power bills at the same time. But the powerful gas lobby is pushing back with everything they have. They are launching a multi-million dollar ad campaign to protect their record profits.”

“It is absurd and dangerous to see Jemena promoting gas appliances in this attempt to keep their dying industry afloat. We know that efficient electric appliances, powered by renewable energy are what's needed for a safe climate - not cash handouts to keep polluting.”

“The good news is that efficient electric appliances can save energy, reduce our bills and cut pollution, and with targeted government support, all households could be supported to switch to affordable, modern appliances.”

Statements attributable to Dr Brad Smith, NCC Policy and Advocacy Director:

“A safe climate for our kids means electrifying all homes by 2035. Every new gas appliance makes this mission harder and more expensive. 

“The NSW government needs to follow the lead of states like the ACT and Victoria and should develop a gas substitution roadmap, so that rather than purchasing polluting gas appliances, households can switch to cheaper, clean, renewable energy.”

“The use of gas in homes is also exposing Australian children to a higher risk of asthma.” [2]

“Cooking with gas causes up to 12 percent of childhood asthma cases.”

“This means a child living in a home with gas cooking faces a similar risk of asthma to a child exposed to cigarette smoke in their home”

Environment Victoria Policy and Advocacy Manager Bronya Lipski also noted:. 

“Our states are facing cold conditions, rising cost of living pressures, and exorbitant energy bills. Gas wrecks our climate, damages our health and is our most expensive form of energy. Yet Victoria burns more gas than any other state, and 60% of that is to heat our homes.” 

“But the gas lobby is pushing back with everything they have. They are launching a multi-million dollar ad campaign to protect their record profits. This is industry propaganda designed to deflect attention away from climate and health science, and directly challenge government ambition to ensure emissions reductions and renewable energy targets are met.”

Background information

[1] Jemena, the gas pipeline operator for NSW, is offering a $500 cashback to customers who replace an existing non-methane gas (“natural gas”) appliance with a methane gas appliance. For details see: https://www.gonaturalgas.com.au/claim-your-cash-back 

[2] Climate Council, Invisible Danger: Gas, Asthma and our Children, 2021  

 

Statement ends 

 

Media contact: 

 

NSW Nature Conservation Council 

Clancy Barnard 

E: [email protected]  Ph: 0438 869 332 

 

Environment Victoria

James Norman

Media and Content Manager​

MOBILE: 0451 291  775

 

Note: NCC CEO Jacqui Mumford and Bronya Lipski, Environment Victoria Policy and Advocacy manager are available for further comment on request  

 

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