For Municipal Councillors
UPDATE: Our legal report for British Columbia municipalities is now online. Click here to download the PDF.
Municipalities in Ontario can require gasoline retailers to put warning labels on gas pumps similar to those found on cigarette packages. Municipalities are able to do this under the authority of their licensing powers and general health and welfare powers found in the Municipal Act. Please download our Ontario Report for Councillors and Staff for more information.
- Municipal World article by Rob Shirkey: “Creating a New ‘Normal’: Using air pollution labels on gas pumps as a step in addressing climate challenges” (March 2015) [link to PDF]
- Municipal World article by Rob Shirkey: Update on Pump Handle Labelling: District of West Vancouver unanimously passes resolution requesting legislation” (April 2015) [link to PDF]
- Municipal World article by Dianne Saxe: “Can municipalities require climate change warning labels?” (September 2013) [link to PDF]
A simple sticker?
The warning label connects behaviour with its consequence right at the point of purchase. Its placement on the nozzle takes a problem of diffuse origins and locates responsibility right in the palm of your hand. The label itself takes far away consequences – like famine, the extinction of species, and extreme weather – and brings them into the here and now. The concept also internalizes cost in a qualitative way; it communicates information to the marketplace in a way that a 10-cent increase at the pump never will. Finally, the label is mirror: it is about acknowledging the role we each play in contributing to climate change and bravely facing up to the challenge.
The labels will cause some individuals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions but, more importantly, they will create a shift in our collective demand to facilitate meaningful action on climate change. Politicians will have more popular support to pass climate change legislation and businesses will innovate to meet the needs of a shifting market.
The idea is a game-changer.
Passing this by-law will create a global precedent. When it happens, it will make international headlines and the concept will quickly spread from there. Historians will one day point to a handful of brave Canadian representatives that forever changed the course of history. Please see our TEDx talk, watch the longer CIGI lecture to learn more.