A couple cooking side by side on a gas stove.

The Battle for Your Kitchen: Why These Experts Want to End Gas Cooking at Home

For decades “natural gas” has been sold to families as the fastest and most efficient way to cook. But now there’s a fight for your stovetop and an urge to make you go electric for your health and the planet.

A coalition of chefs, doctors, climate scientists and property developers have joined forces to crack down on the commercialization of the gas industry, with the goal of banning gas from kitchens around the world.

Activists say gas stoves not only heat up the climate, they also contribute to asthma and other health problems.

And this coalition thinks if they can rid kitchens of gas, they will rid homes of fossil fuels altogether.

Launched today in Sydney, the Global Cooksafe Coalition announces partnerships with developers Lendlease and GPT, who have agreed to phase out gas in new buildings by 2030 and retrofit existing buildings by 2040.

“We believe the future is all electric, whether it’s electric vehicles, cooking or space heating,” said Davina Rooney, executive director of the Green Building Council and one of the founders of the Global Cooksafe Coalition.

Davina Rooney says removing gas from homes is a key way for Australia to meet emissions reduction targets.(Supplied: Green Building Council)

The group was convened by member organizations such as the Green Building Council of Australia, the European Public Health Alliance and the Climate Council.

Its launch partners are developers GPT and Lendlease, which together are responsible for more than $100 billion in development assets and funds under management.

It was crucial for the developers involved that the market launch was supported by Australian top chefs Neil Perry, James Edward Henry, James Lowe and Analiese Gregory.

“People don’t have an emotional connection to the heat pump, but they do care about how the family cooks and lives,” Ms Rooney said.

“That’s why it’s so important for leading chefs to talk about why induction cooking is better for families, better for cooking and better for the planet.”

Wearing a striped shirt and dark apron, Danielle Alvarez laughs and buys slices of fresh pasta.
According to Danielle Alverez, induction cooker technology has improved and is now the best option for kitchens.(Delivered: Danielle Alvarez)

One of the chefs supporting the project is Danielle Alverez, who was chef de cuisine at Fred’s with two hats in Sydney until this year.

She now says that induction stove technology has improved and is by far the best option for kitchens.

“It’s faster, it’s cleaner, it’s less hot in terms of heating your space,” Ms. Alverez said.

Health risks to the fore

The Global Cooksafe Coalition puts the health risks of gas cooking at the heart of its pitch.

According to a 2018 article published in the Medical Journal of Australia, 12 per cent of the burden of childhood asthma in Australia is attributed to indoor gas stoves.

And a 2013 study that combined the results of 41 other studies found that children who lived in a household with a gas stove had a 42 percent increased risk of developing recent asthma symptoms.

There’s also evidence that the pollutants released by gas stoves can affect the brain and heart and increase susceptibility to allergens, said Kate Charleswoth, public health doctor and member of the Climate Council.

“I think many parents would be shocked to learn that a child who lives with gas and cooks at home has a similar risk of developing asthma as a child who lives with cigarette smoke at home,” said Dr. Charlesworth.

Brett Heffernan, chief executive of gas lobby group Gas Energy Australia, argued that there was no link between gas use in kitchens and asthma.

Mr Heffernan pointed to a large 2013 study that found no link between cooking with gas and asthma.

dr Charlesworth pointed to a larger and more recent meta-analysis that combined the results of dozens of articles and included a reference to the 2013 article cited by Mr. Heffernan.

A man uses chopsticks to rotate a piece of meat in a frying pan on an induction stove.
Chefs say induction cooktop technology has improved.(Delivered: Unsplash/Louis Hansel)

But the Global Cooksafe Coalition is also motivated by climate concerns.

Methane, the main component of gas, is a potent, short-lived greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the climate-warming power of carbon dioxide over 20 years.

“Australia has just committed to a 30% methane reduction by 2030 as part of a global coalition. This is an important way for us to move this forward,” said Ms. Rooney.

The question

Stoves are not the biggest drivers of gas consumption in homes, heating and hot water are the bigger drivers.

But the gas industry has long emphasized the benefits of gas cooking with ads emphasizing how “clean” and “manageable” it is.

Australia’s gas lobby, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), is promoting gas cooking through a PR campaign called Bright-r.

A portrait of Ann Austin smiling.
Ann Austin, head of sustainability at Lendlease Australia, said the switch to electric cooking was a relatively easy step.(Supplied: GSCC network)

It includes an entire cooking show called The Chef’s Secret.

APPEA was contacted for comment but declined.

Both the climate movement and the gas industry see decisions about how to cook as crucial.

“Gateway’s decision on whether or not to electrify often comes down to cooking, although it accounts for a smaller fraction of emissions,” Ms Rooney said.

Lendlease said joining the Global Cooksafe Coalition made sense.

The company has sought to reduce its emissions to absolute zero by 2040, and electrifying everything is a relatively easy step, said Ann Austin, Lendlease Australia’s head of sustainability.

“To be honest, the path to decarbonizing our kitchen is pretty simple,” she said.

“It’s just about walking this path.”

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