The fight against climate change is also happening in your kitchen

According to this study, all of the methane emissions produced by the 43 million gas stoves used in the United States are equivalent to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 500,000 gasoline-powered cars per year.

These ranges release between 0.8% and 1.3% natural gas as unburned methane, a major greenhouse gas. Compared to carbon dioxide, methane has an 86 times greater global warming potential over a 20-year period. And at least 34 times larger over a 100-year period.

Even more surprising, three quarters of these emissions occur when the stove is turned off.

We found that when the gas stove is turned off, methane emissions account for more than three quarters of total methane emissions. And the total amount of methane released from gas stoves increases the climate impact of their use by 39%.

A quote from Éric Lebel, lead author of the study and researcher at PSE Healthy Energy

Natural gas vapors would not only be harmful to the environment, they would also pose a health risk. The Stanford University study notes that methane released by gas stoves threatens air quality.

Residents are more directly exposed to emissions from their stove than from their boiler. These vapors may contain carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which researchers say are responsible for several respiratory illnesses, such as asthma.

We know that every gesture counts to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Even the choice of your stove is important. Elisa Serret’s report.

In Canada, gas stoves are less common than in the United States, all things considered. Its use remains moderate: there are about 1.4 million gas stoves in the country, or 9% of all stoves in the residential sector, according to the latest figures from 2018.

In Quebec, 98,900 homes are equipped with gas stoves, or 3%. Although they represent only a small percentage of household appliances, the situation in the hospitality industry is very different.

Gas culture in restaurants

Renowned Quebec chef Normand Laprise is deeply committed to the environment, but admits that the gas stove is part of restaurant culture. My generation of cooks, the one before and the one after, we are all gas, says Mr Laprise, owner of restaurant Toqué! to Montreal.

Nevertheless, the chef is fond of cooking with an induction hob, which he uses in his house and partly in his restaurant.

He smiles in front of a microphone.

Chef Normand Laprise, owner of the famous Toqué restaurant! to Montreal

Photo: Radio-Canada / Etienne Côté-Paluck

If I had to redo all my restaurant cooking, I think at the cold pantry level – for starters – and in pastry I would be completely induction. Perhaps I would save gas for the hot, that is, for the cuts of meat.

A quote from Normand Laprise, chef of restaurant Toqué!

But according to the chef, a 100% electric shift cannot be envisaged by all restaurateurs, especially because of the cost it would entail. Redoing existing facilities would be a huge cost and no restaurant would survive that, he explains. Installing a gas inlet costs less than installing full electrical boxes in the building.

Renowned chef Daniel Vézina, owner of restaurant Laurie Raphaël in Quebec, also has gas stoves in his restaurant. ans que je suis en cuisine, raconte-t-il. Quand tu rentres le matin, c’est toujours comme ça: ça sent le gaz partout dans la cuisine. C’est probablement des émanations volatiles parce que les fourneaux sont tout le temps allumés.”,”text”:”Cela fait 40ans que je suis en cuisine, raconte-t-il. Quand tu rentres le matin, c’est toujours comme ça: ça sent le gaz partout dans la cuisine. C’est probablement des émanations volatiles parce que les fourneaux sont tout le temps allumés.”}}”>I’ve been in the kitchen for forty years, he says. When you come home in the morning, it’s always like this: everywhere in the kitchen there is a smell of gas. They are probably volatile fumes because the heaters are on all the time.

If he plans to buy an induction hob for his home, he says he is still very attached to cooking with gas in his restaurant. There’s something organic about cooking with flames, he says. A cook’s job is to control the heat […] It is very instinctive as a cooking method while induction is more cerebral.

Daniel Vézina sits in front of a microphone.

Chef Daniel Vezina

Photo: Radio-Canada / Etienne Côté-Paluck

In light of what science says, would he be willing to dump his gas stoves in his restaurant kitchen? I think I’d be ready to make that gesture. We really need to reduce these GHGs, and all these stoves are emitting methane. We know how harmful it is. I would be willing to make the effort, it would definitely be a habit to changehe answers.

Prohibit gas connection

In May 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recommended a ban on the sale of new fossil fuel boilers by 2025 in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

In Canada, initiatives are emerging to limit the supply of natural gas to homes. Municipalities and provinces are starting to regulate energy consumption for homes.

For example, the Quebec government passed a law last December banning the installation of new oil-fired heating systems from 2024.

In Vancouver, any new heating or hot water system must be carbon neutral by 2025. Nearly 60% of Vancouver’s greenhouse gases come from the combustion of natural gas for space heating and water, of which 28% is for individual homes.

View of the silhouette of Toronto's skyscrapers.  CN Tower and Rogers Center Stadium.

View of the city of Toronto.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mateo Garcia-Tremblay

In Toronto, about 50% of greenhouse gas emissions result from the combustion of natural gas in buildings. The city’s city council adopted a strategy in July 2021 that classifies the divestment of natural gas as a requirement to become carbon neutral by 2040.

As for Montreal, the city aims to reduce its GHG emissions by 55% by 2030, to be carbon neutral by 2050. Is a ban on the connection to natural gas in new construction in the offing? the city says think it over Has solutions in line with set goals in its climate plan.

The federal government aims to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 45% over the next eight years The 2030 emission reduction plan : Canada’s next steps for clean air and a strong economy, unveiled last week. Notably, it is providing $33 million to establish a home renovation support program.

A movement gaining momentum in the United States

In a new apartment in New York it will no longer be possible to connect a gas stove. The city passed a law last December to ban natural gas in new buildings, making the megalopolis the largest city in America to ban or restrict the use of natural gas for cooking or heating.

A view of Manhattan with a thick layer of smog.

New York City is taking big steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas. Pictured: Manhattan grapples with a thick layer of smog.

Photo: Reuters/BRENDAN MCDERMID

Using natural gas for heating and cooking represents 10% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions. A third of the homes there are equipped with a gas stove. To achieve their carbon neutrality targets, cities do not want to expand their distribution network any further.

This decision is part of a move initiated by several Democratic cities to restrict or ban natural gas in the residential sector. The first to do so was the university city of Berkeley, California, which passed such a law in 2019.

And the movement has grown: Since then, more than 50 California cities have restricted or banned natural gas connections in new or existing buildings.

Still, some twenty Republican states are trying to curb these municipal initiatives. This is especially the case in Arizona, Texas, Florida or Tennessee, which have passed laws to make any kind of prohibition to this effect illegal.

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