Hamilton 350

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Getting Off Gas

As this campaign has multiple facets, we’ve broken it down into a few sub-sections.

Resist fossil gas expansion

Doug Ford wants YOU to foot Enbridge's bill!

Enbridge Gas recently asked the Ontario Energy Board (OEB)—the province’s independent energy regulator—to approve a rate hike for gas customers. Enbridge planned for $250 million in new pipelines in 2024 alone, with the costs to be passed on to their customers.

But the OEB did something Enbridge didn’t expect: they said NO. More homes are choosing cheaper, cleaner heat pumps over gas, so customers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize new gas pipelines for Enbridge. This should have been a “good news” story.

But the day after the OEB decision, Todd Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, announced that the Ford government was planning to take the unprecedented step of overturning it. On 27 February 2024, the Conservatives unveiled legislation to not only reverse the OEB decision but also to end its independence and fire its chair.

Enbridge has been campaigning against the OEB ruling and has written to municipal councils across Ontario. But even before the request was formally received, Hamilton City Council voted unanimously to support the OEB decision. Other city councils are doing the same.

The Hamilton 350 Committee, Hamilton City Council, and many other organizations are uniting in a campaign to oppose the Ford government’s reversal of the OEB decision, its intention to fire the independent chair of the OEB, its ongoing subsidies to developers and Enbridge Gas, and its wilful disregard of climate damage.

For a succinct summary of the issue, check out this opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator by Michael Adamson (Ontario Regional Director, CAPE) and Kim Perrotta (ED of the Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity).

Counter disinformation

There's nothing "natural" about "natural" gas!

Enbridge and other companies that profit from producing, selling or using fossil fuels use the term “natural gas” repeatedly in an attempt to establish it in common parlance and make it seem innocuous. We prefer to use the term “fossil gas” to make it clear that it’s something that needs to be eliminated in order to help mitigate the climate emergency.

In the words of Enbridge Gas: “Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture, consisting mainly of methane…”. Okay, so maybe by the strictest definition it is naturally occurring, but note the keyword “methane”. While carbon dioxide (CO2) is bad for the atmosphere, methane is far worse. According to the UN Environment Program:

“Methane is […] a powerful greenhouse gas. Over a 20-year period, it is 80 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide. [It] has accounted for roughly 30 per cent of global warming since pre-industrial times and is proliferating faster than at any other time since record keeping began in the 1980s. […] even as carbon dioxide emissions decelerated during the pandemic-related lockdowns of 2020, atmospheric methane shot up.”

Check out this video from Environmental Defence for an overview of why we need to phase out fossil gas as an energy source.

Promote fuel-efficient appliances

Ban fossil fuel hook-ups in new builds

Hamilton 350 is working alongside other environmental organizations to promote the take-up of electrical appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves over gas furnaces and gas stoves.

We believe that Hamilton City Council should join other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world in banning the implementation of fossil fuel hook-ups in new builds. For example:

  •  In Vancouver, all new and replacement heating and hot water systems must be zero emissions by 2025.
  • In Quebec, it became illegal to replace existing furnaces with any sort of heating system powered by fossil fuels after December 2023.

Heat pumps: The smart way to heat and cool your home

Heat pumpFrom the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA): “Heat pump technology is the smart, modern way to heat and cool your home. Heat pumps move heat from the outside air or the ground to the inside of your home in winter and are three to four times more energy efficient than a gas furnace. In summer, they move heat out of your home and are up to twice as efficient as a conventional air conditioner. The result is that heat pumps use far less energy to heat and cool your home. And when heat pumps are powered by zero carbon electricity, they can massively reduce your home’s climate impact.”

How do they do that? See this article from The Guardian for an animated visual of how heat pumps work.

Factcheck: 18 misleading myths about heat pumps

Heat pumps now feature in most proposals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by mid-century in order to meet the globally agreed aim of avoiding dangerous climate change.

For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says with high confidence that net-zero energy systems will include the electrification of heating “rely[ing] substantially on heat pumps” – with a possible exception only for extreme climates.

Heat pumps significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from building heat and are the “central technology in the global transition to secure and sustainable heating”, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Heat pumps are also a mature technology and are very popular in countries such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, where they are the dominant heating technology. For the first time in 2022, heat pumps outsold gas boilers in the US – and they continued to do so in 2023.

Yet, in major economies such as the UK and Germany, heat pumps are the subject of hostile and misleading reporting across many mainstream media outlets.

In this article, Carbon Brief factchecks 18 of the most common and persistent myths about heat pumps.