Drivers in North Vancouver will start seeing warning labels on gas pumps starting next year. The initiative is designed to warn drivers about the effect of fossil fuels on the environment. These spots on the gas nozzles have traditionally been used to advertise various convenience store items.
The new warning labels will be similar in nature to those used on packages of cigarettes. North Vancouver will be the first city in the world to require the use of such labels. The law was unanimously passed by the city council. Meanwhile, the conservation group Our Horizon wants the labels to be used throughout North America.
North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto said in a statement, “About 50% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions are created by vehicles. By reminding people of the connection between the use of fossil fuels and climate change, while providing fuel efficiency and active transportation tips, these labels will highlight the many ways we can reduce our impact on the environment.”
The founder of Our Horizon Robert Shirkey added, “The labeling proposal directly links the consumption of fossil fuels to the impacts of climate change. This label engages the reader in a manner that transitions them from a passive observer to active participant. That’s a critical precursor to change.”
Shirkey says that he thought of the idea for warning labels while he was stuck in traffic in 2010. During this time, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was dominating the news.
Shirkey explained, “As I sat there, I counted 14 lanes of barely-moving vehicles, all burning fossil fuel. It became obvious to me there was a disconnect that needed to be addressed. The only reason that offshore drilling rigs even exists is because there’s a market for the product it delivers.”
It will cost the city of North Vancouver somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 to produce and distribute the labels. It is unknown who exactly is covering the cost, but it is most likely either the retailers or the city.
Other cities are also considering a similar initiative, including West Vancouver, Oakville, Waterloo, Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Monica and Seattle.
While the initiative is unlikely to make people stop pumping gas, it just might make them think twice before they mindlessly fill up their tanks.