Quebec must cut the gas, demand in unison 14 organizations
Environmental organizations are asking the City not to install gas for new constructions.
Faced with the risks it represents for the environment and health, gas should no longer be installed in new buildings, believe 14 organizations that unite in the coalition Sortons le gaz!
There is already water in the gas between Énergir and Sortons le gaz!, which accuses the company of dangling an unrealistic goal in energy transition. Indeed, Énergir announced on Monday that it wanted each new building connected to its network to be 100% powered by renewable natural gas (RNG).
However, the coalition analyzes that this objective is untenable in the long term, because for the moment, the GNR would only represent a derisory percentage of the total gas consumption. But organizations and experts are especially alarmed that the production of GNR is limited. If Énergir switches to 100% GNR, more food would have to be wasted or trees cut down to make biomass, they note.
Across Montreal, a number of organizations that are now part of this coalition have intervened to cut off the gas with the municipal commission on water, the environment, development and large parks. Apparently convinced, the Commission recommended in February in Montreal to prohibit the connection to the gas network of new buildings. The coalition now wants to attack municipalities and, ultimately, the Quebec government.
The objective of 5% of GNR in its network that Énergir has set itself should be used for other areas, given the scarcity of this resource, says the professor at the Institute of Environmental Sciences of UQAM Eric Pineault. He thinks that RNG “must be reserved for critical industries that need it” to succeed in their energy transition. “Heating buildings can be done differently,” he adds.
Environmental and health risks
“Connecting new customers to the GNR is irresponsible,” said Professor Pineault at a press conference. The impossibility of making RNG the main source of gas in Quebec worries organizations about the options that will be offered to customers if there is a shortage. In addition, gas in homes represents a health risk, recalls the Quebec Association of Environmental Physicians (AQME).
“Gas stoves are toxic,” says emergency physician and AQME member Éric Notebaert. His organization listed several problems for the children, including worsening asthma. “It’s like being exposed to a smoker,” worries Dr. Notebaert, while AQME has opposed this sector for years.
The gas is harmful to the environment, underlines Let's get the gas out!, figures in support. Thus, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to gas represent 7% of the Quebec total and 63% of emissions from the building sector. However, only 15% of the energy consumed by buildings in Quebec comes from gas.
In addition, the gas consumed in Quebec is extracted, for the most part, by fracturing, a technique that is prohibited in the province . This technique is controversial and has many consequences, including water contamination, the occurrence of earthquakes and the health of populations, underlines the coalition on its website.
There are many problems related to the health of populations living near hydraulic fracturing sites, especially among children, notes Éric Notebaert. The fracking industry is also the one with the most work accidents, he notes.
In addition to uniting several environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation, Équiterre, citizen organizations and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Sortons le gaz! proposes concrete actions for citizens and municipalities who wish to specifically address gas.
Quebec citizens can visit the site and sign a commitment not to choose gas as a source of energy. The objective is to cover a map of Quebec, with a pictogram for all citizens engaged against gas. The website also offers each citizen to write to their municipality to demand a ban on gas in new buildings.
The coalition also offers assistance to municipalities that would like to move forward and adopt resolutions like the one Montreal is considering. The organizations have prepared a ready-to-use resolution and a turnkey legal template for cities and towns that would like to get involved. Those who do will also be represented by a pictogram on this map of Quebec.