Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Warning Label: Driving a Car Could Harm your Health and the Health of the Planet

Climate Change & Air Pollution Warning Labels on Gas Pumps (42 page pdf,Our Horizon, 2013)

Also discussed here: Climate warning labels on gasoline may become a reality (Meredith James, Envirolaw, May 23, 2014)

And here: Can municipalities require climate warning labels on gasoline? (Dianne Saxe, Envirolaw, Sep. 3, 2013)

And here:

(11 min You-Tube, TEDxYouth, Havergal College, Toronto, 2013)

And here: Grade 10 student pitches global warming warning on gas nozzles (2 min video, Global BC News, May 15, 2014)

And here: Environmental group proposes warning labels on gas nozzles (Toronto Star, May 23, 2014)

Today we review a submission to Toronto City Council calling for a bylaw that would require gas stations to apply a climate change warning sign to their pumps. This follows the same rationale and municipal authority used for bylaws that ban idling which also was aimed at reducing needless vehicle emissions, as well as the health justifications used by municipalities for banning smoking inside restaurants and bars and city buildings, as well as near their entrances. Just as the tobacco companies fought smoking bans and health warning signs on cigarette packages, so the oil industry is likely to fight this proposal- with hopefully the same result. A similar bylaw is being proposed in West Vancouver and Hudson. Why not in other cities where vehicle emissions are a major greenhouse gas source and health risk?

    cl ch warning signs 

Key Quotes:

“Drivers fill their tanks each day in municipalities across Canada, and burn their gasoline driving within those municipalities. Canadians are, per capita, among the world’s worst GHG emitters, and the transportation sector is the largest contributor to our GHG emissions

“Under the various Municipal Acts across Canada, municipalities have substantial powers to license and regulate local businesses. Some municipalities already use this power to license service stations.”

“a carefully crafted climate change warning label by-law should survive legal attack, if it does not conflict directly with a federal or provincial law, is intended to complement provincial regulations and has a valid municipal purpose”

“The preamble from numerous municipal anti-idling by-laws reference greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and local air quality. Implicit in these ubiquitous by-laws is an accepted recognition of vehicular emissions as a matter of local concern. The rationale behind our labelling by-law is identical. “

“Municipalities in Ontario can require gasoline retailers to place these labels on their gas pump nozzles. The warning labels would be a new condition for a gasoline retailer to obtain, continue to hold or renew its business license. The Municipal Act provides the authority to require such labels through its Part II general municipal powers and its Part IV licensing powers. The City of Toronto Act provides similar powers. These powers are broad and have been recognized by the Ontario Court of Appeal to empower municipalities “to tackle the challenges of governing in the 21st century.” “

 “The warning labels address some of the root problems of climate change and air pollution. First, they counteract the current moment bias by building feedback. Second, they address the problem of diffusion of responsibility by showing impacts right in the palm of our hand. Third, they capture and communicate negative externalities in a qualitative way. “

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