SFU students advocate for warning labels on gas pumps

Gas pumps should have warning labels much like cigarette packages do, to make people consider the impact of fossil fuel use on climate change, according to students with Face the Change’s Our Horizons campaign.

Burnaby is the most recent city to be approached by local members of Face the Change about the initiative. Two Simon Fraser University students spoke to council about the warning labels at the last council meeting.

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“Our labels are a disruptive innovation,” John Nguyen told council. “We foresee our labels will make people uncomfortable with their role in climate change.”

While putting stickers depicting possible local consequences of climate change on gas pumps might lead to slight changes in individual behaviour, the organization wants to effect the larger community, Nguyen said.

“We’re more concerned with a shift in attitude – a collective change,” he said.

The labels are a cost-effective and simple way to inform the public and make sure people consider the link between the fossil fuel industry and the environment, according to Salil Jakhadie, another SFU student involved in the campaign.

Jakhadie asked council to consider formally supporting the labels, consider how Burnaby could support other municipalities in adopting the initiative, and inform the community about the initiative.

“You have the ability to enact change,” he told council. “You can call this the opportunity to transition from an oil-based economy to something cleaner and greener.”

The SFU branch of the organization has collected 150 signatures from SFU students supporting the campaign, according to Nguyen.

Members of the organization have also spoken to the Metro Vancouver board and the regional climate action committee, and the board has asked for a staff report on the campaign, according to Mayor Derek Corrigan.

“I think the same thing is appropriate here, that our staff can coordinate with Metro staff and report back to us on the issues surrounding this, including the potential for support at the FCM or UBCM,” Corrigan said. “I think staff will also need to make at least some contact with the industry, because the existing site on gas pumps is used for advertising or information now. So it would mean we’re taking up space that’s utilized now by the individual.”

For more information on the campaign, including a look at the stickers themselves, go to ourhorizon.org.

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