Chief Minister Andrew Barr has rebuked a Greens plan to fast-track the phasing out of natural gas in the ACT, saying households shouldn't be "shamed" for not switching to electric appliances.
But Greens leader Shane Rattenbury has fired back, accusing Labor of shying away from major and urgent action on climate change.
The Greens on Tuesday announced their ambition for the territory to be "fossil fuel gas free" by 2040, five years ahead of the time frame Mr Rattenbury set out in an announcement alongside Mr Barr last September.
In a bid to accelerate the transition to a city powered entirely by electricity, the Greens want to ban gas connections to new suburbs from 2021.
They also want to embark on an "intensive" two-year program to cease new connections in established suburbs. A $20 million fund would be set up to help businesses and households make the switch to electric appliances, such as heat pumps and reverse cycle air conditioning, under the Greens' plan.
Mr Rattenbury, the ACT's climate change minister, said among the easiest ways for the ACT to reach its zero emissions target was to "stop creating new problems for ourselves" by installing new gas connections.
But Mr Barr, who stood alongside Mr Rattenbury at the launch of the ACT's ambitious climate change strategy in September last year, said Labor would not support any "crazy Greens proposal" which would see households forced to switch off gas appliances before they were ready to.
In comments which show a divide between the two governing parties on climate and energy policy, Mr Barr said the transition from gas to electricity was best achieved by helping households - not by seeking to impose a "rigid ideology" on them.
Mr Barr said the Greens had overlooked the potential for biogas and hydrogen to help "decarbonize" the gas network and allow for a smoother transition to zero emissions over the next 25 years.
"We can't heat this city in our bitterly cold winters with electricity alone," Mr Barr said.
"We don't have the sufficient infrastructure and there is no question that [under the Greens' plan] Canberrans who currently have gas would be forced off gas ahead of when they are ready to do so.
"Our approach is going to be in partnership with households when they are ready to make that shift. We are not bringing out a big stick and saying you're a bad person if you use gas.
"We are not going to be gas-shaming people. We're not going to say that you're a bad person or a bad household if you use gas. Because you will need to for many years into the future."
Mr Barr said under the existing 2045 target, households would have time to switch to electric once their existing gas appliances had reached the end of their useful life.
Mr Rattenbury said his cabinet colleague had either not read the Greens' policy, had misunderstood it or was seeking to deliberately misrepresent it. He accused Labor of "digging in deep" for a gas-led future, despite the party's commitment to phasing out the use of the energy source by 2045.
"The Greens won't let fear-mongering get in the way of what climate scientists tell us we need to do to avoid a climate catastrophe," he said.
Mr Rattenbury said the Greens believed a 2040 target was achievable on the back of technological advancements.
"Our package is about supporting households and businesses to choose clean, zero emissions energy. It's about finding solutions that mean, as a community, we can achieve our goals, while making sure nobody gets left behind," he said.
Liberal leader Alistair Coe said gas should be connected to new suburbs, particularly for the benefit of businesses.
Mr Coe, who said gas would be a key part of Australia's future energy mix, described the Greens' plan as "risky" and "dangerous".