Will Montreal cut the gas?
Environmental organizations are asking the City to no longer install gas for new constructions.
There is water in the gas between environmental organizations and the companies Hydro-Québec and Énergir. A coalition of organizations fighting for the climate is pushing Montreal to abandon gas in new buildings by turning away from dual energy and renewable natural gas (RNG), two solutions brought by energy companies.
While gas in buildings accounts for 6% of greenhouse gas emissions, the objective of organizations is rather to accelerate the energy transition in order to meet pre-established climate targets. They do not believe in the solutions offered by Hydro-Québec and Énergir.
The Group of environmental and energy organizations (ROÉÉ), Greenpeace, Équiterre and the Quebec Association of Environmental Physicians (AQME) have published a joint brief, as part of the public consultations on the roadmap for zero-emission buildings by 2040 for the City of Montreal.
“The climate crisis requires the rapid removal of gas from buildings throughout Quebec,” says the head of the Climate-Energy campaign at Greenpeace Canada, Patrick Bonin. Heard by the Commission on Water, the Environment and Sustainable Development of Montreal, he castigates dual energy and GNR, which he designates as false solutions from Hydro-Québec and Énergir.
< h3 id="h-gas-solutions-a-false-good-idea">Gas-based solutions, a false good idea?
Renewable natural gas (RNG) is expected to constitute only 10% of the gas in circulation in 2030. Montreal must not let the door open to RNGs in building heating.
Patrick Bonin, head of the Climate-Energy campaign for Greenpeace Canada before the Commission on Water, the Environment and Sustainable Development
The group of organizations also argued that considering the lifespan of the equipment, by installing gas systems in 2025, Montreal would be blocked with them until 2040, thus evoking a “carbon lock”.
< p>In addition, the GNR used for heating could not be used in certain industries which do not have electrical alternatives, argues Greenpeace, while Équiterre adds that the uses of gas in buildings are simple to electrify .
Reaching the climate target and protecting health
“To be truly zero emissions, municipalities must also target all gas-fired equipment, including stoves, water heaters and households, specifies Patrick Bonin who also warns that “the City is not on track to achieve its 2030 climate objective and it will not get there without legislating on gas”.
He took the opportunity to give some facts about the production of the gas, including the fact that “the majority of the gas is extracted by hydraulic fracturing”. According to him, “unless there is a closed circuit, Énergir cannot guarantee that it is GNR” that it supplies to its users.
ROEE has put forward as a solution heat storage systems, which allow heating with electricity without overloading the grid during peak hours. The organization showed examples of gas bans to the City of Montreal, citing France, Sweden and New York.
For its part, the AQME insisted on the health risks associated with gas. She mentioned hydraulic fracturing, which poses risks to the neighborhood, as well as the 234 annual deaths she estimates linked to the use of gas in Montreal.
The City is currently holding hearings as part of its consultation on theRoadmap for Montreal's zero-emission buildings by 2040. This makes Montreal the first city in Quebec to hold a consultation with the aim of regulating greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. The metropolis will require that all new buildings be zero emissions by 2025.
A recent research report by the Center québécois du droit de l'environnement shows that Quebec municipalities have the competence and the power to act in the decarbonization of buildings in order to participate in the fight against climate change.