A new report from the Climate Council finds that gas is harming human health at every step of the process, from extraction and processing to burning for heating and cooking in our homes.
Communities on the frontlines of gas extraction and young people are the most impacted groups.
“Young people will not only face the worst climate change impacts, made worse by the burning of gas for power, but are also first and worst hit by the health impacts of using gas for cooking and heating in their homes. This is yet another injustice at the hands of fossil fuel companies,” said Alex Fuller, National Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC).
The Climate Council report found that cooking with gas is estimated to be the cause of up to 12% of the childhood asthma burden in Australia. This means that a child living with gas cooktops in the home faces a comparable risk of asthma to a child living with household cigarette smoke.
Gas heaters can also spill poisonous carbon monoxide if they haven’t been regularly serviced, if they have a blocked flue or chimney, or if there’s a lack of adequate ventilation.
“My family was subject to carbon monoxide poisoning when I was growing up,” said Olivia Sutherland, AYCC Volunteer, 20 years old, Victoria.
“We were a young family with a single mother and two children under 6. Living below the poverty line didn’t equip us to be both warm in the winter and adequately protected from the dangers of poorly fitted gas heaters.” Ms Sutherland said.
“It’s scary to think that we’re being put in immediate physical danger, as well as ecologically through the climate impacts of gas extraction and use. I would like to see the government take action to transition gas out of people’s homes and our energy sector for people’s health now and into the future.” Ms Sutherland said.
AYCC are concerned the use of gas puts young people at particular risk.
“Young people are disproportionately in older rental properties, often with poorer ventilation and heating. Across Australia, young people are left with no other choice than to use gas in their homes for cooking and heating,” Ms Fuller said.
“The government should quickly transition away from gas that is impacting people’s health and causing climate change from burning fossil fuels. We do not need gas, renewable energy is the cheaper and cleaner solution,” Ms Fuller said.
Alex Fuller and Olivia Sutherland are both