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When Climate and Air Quality Compete

Reducing carbon dioxide pollution comes with benefits to the climate that usually go hand-in-hand with efforts to improve air quality.  A new housing development planned for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), however, has been warned that by going green it may in fact worsen air pollution.

In the ACT it is compulsory that new residential developments be fitted with natural gas infrastructure, which is used both for cooking and heating.  The new 350 home development of Ginninderry, however, has now been allowed to go completely electric in an energy efficiency trial.  The ACT has access to significant hydroelectric generators and has a commitment to completely switch to renewable electricity, making the move away from gas a good one for the climate.  An air quality impact assessment report from the EPA, however, has warned that it may harm air quality in the region.  Specifically, their report cautioned that the switch to electricity "will limit the choices available for spac…

Wood Fired Heaters Threaten Australia's Clean Air

Winter finally came to Melbourne today, bringing with it the smell of wood-fired heaters.  And as lovely as it is to curl up in front of a fireplace on a cold night, I'm here to remind everyone that they are absolutely atrocious for air quality.  Sorry about that.

A recent story in The Examiner highlighted how wood-fired heaters are negatively impacting upon Tasmania's air quality.  Wood smoke is also the biggest contributor to wintertime air pollution in Sydney.  The top tips for operating your fireplace from EPA Tasmania were to make sure you use dry wood and to get the fire burning hot by leaving the flue fully open for 20 minutes whenever adding new wood, and never let the fire smolder over night.  Further tips are available from EPA Victoria and the Department of Environment and Energy.

Operating your fireplace efficiently is important, but even when working correctly wood-fired heaters are bad for air quality, both inside and outside the home.  Australia needs to end its…