A growing number of U.S. cities are taking a stand against gas stoves, long-billed as a more convenient way to cook, because of their contribution to climate change.
Since June, a dozen cities have banned natural gas equipment in new buildings. Berkeley, California, was the first, followed in the state by San Jose, Mountain View, Santa Rosa and Brisbane. A half-dozen other cities have passed laws to strongly encourage all-electric construction without banning fossil fuels outright.
On the East Coast, Brookline, Massachusetts, in November became the first city in the state to ban new gas hookups. Dozens of other cities, from Cambridge and Newton in Massachusetts to Seattle, are considering similar bans.
While the restrictions enjoy strong public support, they’re causing panic among some homeowners and gas-dependent industries. The California Restaurant Association last week sued Berkeley, calling its gas-ban law “irresponsible” and claiming that “restaurants specializing in international foods so prized in the Bay Area will be unable to prepare many of their specialties without natural gas.” The gas industry has also funded extensive opposition to cities’ climate goals, the Los Angeles Times reports.
While the stoves themselves aren’t the biggest problem from a climate change perspective, they’re the aspect that most people are attached to, said Bruce Nilles, managing director of building electrification at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a clean-energy think tank.
“Most people have no idea how they heat their water, how they dry their clothes, how they heat their homes — but most people are well aware that they have a gas or electric stove,” he said.
A home with a gas stove likely uses gas for other purposes, and it’s those other appliances — the furnace and the washer and dryer — that are most responsible for climate-warming pollution, data show. But in recent years, Americans have used gas more than any other fuel except oil, a major reason carbon emissions have kept rising.