Montreal is preparing to ban most new natural gas connections in the next two years

Following the lead of some U.S. municipalities, Montreal plans to begin imposing restrictions on new natural gas, propane and oil connections in October 2024 in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Local government rules would ban fossil fuel cooking and heating in new residential buildings up to three storeys high from next October. The bans will be extended in April 2025 to new industrial sites that are not part of the current gas networks.

Exemptions would be granted for professional cooking, barbecues using fuel tanks, temporary outdoor electrical generators and site heaters.

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Management at Quebec’s leading gas distribution company Energir, which serves 535,000 customers, offered support for the rules.

Energir management said it is “certainly confident it will be able to slow the growth of new fossil gas connections” with the province’s combination of emissions controls and cleanup assistance. The program “reinforces our leadership role in Quebec’s decarbonization efforts and demonstrates Energir’s commitment to meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets, including carbon neutrality in the construction industry by 2040.”

Montreal adopted greenhouse gas controls after lengthy hearings last winter. The civic government said about 30% of the city’s carbon emissions come from buildings.

The rules on gas appliances in new buildings are among a set of climate policies designed to offset emissions controls with government subsidies for alternative fuels, as well as electric heating and cooking exchanges.

Quebec provides annual subsidies of up to $195 million to pump renewable natural gas (RNG) from landfills. There are also subsidies of up to $119 million for dual-fuel gas and electric home heating systems.

Similar combinations of GHG reduction targets and cleanup subsidies are gradually emerging in Canada with regional variations, such as the concentration on RNG in British Columbia. The programs are strongest in provinces with highly developed hydropower.

Similar natural gas bans have been enacted in various parts of the United States, but face legal challenges.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously in April repeal the ban on natural gas infrastructure in Berkeley, CA. Earlier this month, a lawsuit was filed regarding a similar law in New York, which should be enacted in 2027.

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