MasterChef Australia Faces Criticism Over Gas Industry Sponsorship Deal

MasterChef Australia faces backlash for gas industry sponsorship, seen as greenwashing to promote false climate solutions and delay fossil fuel transition.

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Geeta Pillai
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MasterChef Australia Faces Criticism Over Gas Industry Sponsorship Deal

MasterChef Australia Faces Criticism Over Gas Industry Sponsorship Deal

MasterChef Australia has come under fire for accepting a sponsorship deal with Australian Gas Networks (AGN) and other gas infrastructure companies to showcase the use of carbon neutral biomethane and hydrogen gas in the show's kitchen and for a BBQ challenge. The partnership, which is being touted as a "world first" for the MasterChef franchise, aims to demonstrate how these low-emission gas alternatives can be integrated into existing gas networks to support Australia's transition to net zero. "Biomethane, made from captured organic waste, and hydrogen gas will be used to power the MasterChef kitchen and a unique BBQ challenge," according to a statement from AGN.

However, the move has been met with criticism from experts and environmental groups who see it as a cynical attempt by the gas industry to promote its products and counter bans on gas appliances. "Friends of the Earth Australia expressed disappointment that MasterChef Australia has accepted sponsorship from the gas industry to promote the use of a blend of hydrogen and biomethane by contestants," the organization said in a statement. They argue that methane gas is a potent climate accelerant facing decline due to concerns about its climate, health, and economic impacts, and that hydrogen and biomethane are not viable alternatives.

Experts have also pointed out that hydrogen is a highly volatile gas with lower energy intensity than methane, and its addition to methane would double the leaks from the distribution system. They also note that biomethane is an expensive process that is unlikely to meet the gas demand in Australia. "The gas industry has increased its marketing and lobbying efforts to maintain public acceptance of fossil methane," said one expert, who criticized the sponsorship as an attempt by the gas industry to greenwash its image and control infrastructure.

Why this matters: The controversy surrounding MasterChef Australia's sponsorship deal highlights the ongoing debate over the future of gas in Australia. As states like Victoria move to ban gas connections in new homes to meet climate targets, the gas industry is facing increasing pressure to find alternative fuels and maintain its relevance. The sponsorship deal is seen by many as a cynical attempt to promote false solutions and delay the transition away from fossil fuels.

Environmental groups have called on MasterChef Australia to follow the lead of its international counterparts and switch to electric induction cooktops, which are seen as healthier and more environmentally friendly. "It would be better to showcase more efficient and cleaner electric appliances on the show," said one campaigner. The Victorian government's recent decision to ban gas connections in new homes from January 2024 has added to the pressure on the gas industry, which is facing declining public acceptance and concerns over the health impacts of gas cooking, particularly on children with asthma.

Key Takeaways

  • MasterChef Australia partners with gas companies to showcase biomethane and hydrogen.
  • Critics argue this is a cynical attempt to promote gas and delay climate action.
  • Experts say hydrogen and biomethane are not viable alternatives to fossil fuels.
  • Environmental groups call for MasterChef to use electric induction cooktops instead.
  • Victoria bans gas connections in new homes, adding pressure on the gas industry.