The City of Sydney council has passed a motion to kickstart the process requiring new homes and businesses to be all-electric and 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 incorporate electric stoves, cooktops, heaters and hot water units, instead of gas.

The move could save every new household built in Sydney an average of $430 per year on energy bills – or more than $5,500 in today’s dollars over a typical 40-year life of a dwelling, according to research by Strategy Policy Research, commissioned by 350 Australia.

It also has the potential to save 1.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions compared with business as usual over 40 years, based on the same analysis. If every NSW council currently connected to the gas network followed Sydney’s lead, 24.1 million tonnes of carbon emissions could be removed over the same 40-year period. 

The motion responds to climate organisation 350 Australia’s ‘Electrify Your Council’ campaign, and comes 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 which recently passed new planning rules that prevent gas appliances in new homes and businesses. 

350 Australia CEO, Lucy Manne said, “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.

“Only developers and gas corporations benefit from keeping our homes and businesses connected to gas. We congratulate the City of Sydney for taking bold climate leadership and taking action where the state government is falling behind.” 

Doctors for the Environment health advocacy organisation member and senior lecturer in epidemiology, Dr Ben Ewald said, “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.”

NSW Campaigner for Healthy Futures health organisation alliance, Browyn McDonald added, “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.”