Climate change warning labels urged for gas pumps

Pump pain may come with pang of greenhouse gas guilt as motorists fill up

An advocacy group and a growing number of municipal politicians are pushing for the addition of climate change warning labels on gas pump handles.

The pain drivers feel at the pump from high gas prices may soon also come with a jolt of shame for helping destroy the planet.

A proposal gaining momentum with civic leaders in B.C. would see guilt-inducing climate change warning labels slapped on all gas pump handles.

The non-profit group Our Horizon has been advancing the concept on the basis that warnings that graphically show the damage from climate change could nudge motorists to cut their emissions.

It’s inspired by cigarette package warnings that are credited in the decline of smoking and the example warning labels circulated by the group are similar in design.

“Warning: Use of this fuel product contributes to ocean acidification which puts much marine life at risk of extinction,” states one label that comes with images of thriving and dead coral.

West Vancouver council will bring a resolution before the Union of B.C. Municipalities in September asking the province to make the pump labels a requirement province-wide.

City of North Vancouver council voted to endorse the idea June 15 and it doesn’t want to wait for a provincial government decision.

“We’re going to try to go it alone,” Mayor Darrell Mussatto said, adding North Vancouver still must investigate the legalities. “We think it’s the right thing to do.”

Our Horizon B.C. campaigner Matt Hulse said he believes any municipality could make gas pump labeling a condition for gas stations in its local business licence bylaw.

But West Vancouver Mayor Mike Smith, a longtime petroleum distributor in the region, said he doesn’t want to take the risk that a unilateral municipal requirement gets challenged in court.

“I personally hate spending public money on legal fees,” he said, adding his city will wait for provincial policy.

Smith said he will vote in favour of his council’s resolution at UBCM.

“It’s just a way of reminding the public that there’s a cost to be borne for using petroleum products,” Smith said. “Nobody’s advocating banning them. But you should be aware when you fill your car up that there’s an effect on the climate and on the environment of doing that.”

He called the suggested labels innocuous and doesn’t believe the oil industry would object.

No jurisdiction in Canada has yet made pump warning labels a requirement.

Hulse said the labels would help make the routine act of filling up the tank a choice to be considered more carefully.

“It places responsibility right in the palm of your hand,” Hulse said.

If the concept takes off, he said, specific impact wording and imagery could be developed to tailor the labels to each area.

“In the Lower Mainland it might be sea level rise, flooding, smog – any number of things – and it might be different in the Interior of B.C., where it might be forest fires and pine beetles,” Hulse said. “It might be ocean acidification in coastal areas such as Qualicum Beach, which has had a massive crash in its shellfish industry.”

Richmond Coun. Harold Steves noted handle labels would only be seen by self-serve pump users and suggested larger labels for the pump display be designed that are visible at full-serve stations.

SFU marketing professor Lindsay Meredith said the idea could influence fossil fuel consumption, particularly among people already considering buying an electric car or choosing other transportation options to reduce their carbon footprint.

“It’s a way of turning up the heat, no doubt about it,” Meredith said. “Does it get the hard core guy driving the Escalade or the Hummer? Probably not. Does it get a whole bunch of the younger crowd or the people who are on the margin? You bet your boots it does.”

Just Posted

Van fire sends plume of black smoke into sky above Willowbrook

Vehicle a charred shell in fire that slowed Friday commute home

Police investigate apparent impaired-driving crash

Incident took place in Abbotsford on Thursday night

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

Langley Rotarians work for clinics in Kenya

Local Rotary Clubs are asking locals to think of others at Christmastime.

Langley realtor uses Monopoly tournament to add to refugee group’s community chest

A fundraising tournament could be the start of an annual tradition.

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Family Christmas fun at Aldergrove’s Loft Country farm

The Loft Country children’s horse camp in Aldergrove is celebrating Christmas in a new way this year

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

UPDATED: Train collides with car in Maple Ridge

Mother and child both uninjured, track cleared at 11 a.m.

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

VIDEO: Pedestrian struck by vehicle caught on security camera

Incident points to danger on the roads not only in low light but also in bright sunshine

Most Read