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

Time-lapse video shows weekend work on McKenzie Interchange project

Construction crews place concrete underpass bridge beams

Years of ‘horrific, violent accidents’ at Thetis Lake prompt plea to public

View Royal fire chief asks for an end to alcohol consumption at busy park

‘Best in the country’: Formerly homeless man praises Victoria’s outreach services

Jay W. was living on the streets of downtown Victoria in 2018

City of Victoria plans workshop to determine fate of Sir John A. Macdonald statue

Conversations will happen as part of a reconciliation dialogue series in May 2020

Islanders have new cancer screening option with $6.5 M diagnostic suite in Victoria

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

EDITORIAL: Trees at the heart of Sooke

Two largely unrelated stories surfaced this week that might lead one to… Continue reading

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Most Read