On November 18th, the Berkeley City Council approved attaching labels to gas pumps, informing drivers of the contribution of CO₂ to greenhouse gas emissions. The label advises drivers that burning fossil fuels is a threat to health. The goal of the Beyond the Pump (BTP), which initiated the campaign, is to build awareness about the dangers of CO₂ at the point of consumption.
Gasoline consumption is a typical individual’s largest contribution of GHG. This first-in-the-nation step flexes human sensitivity to social norms to target behavior change, the cornerstone to lowering emissions in transportation.
Most individuals do not connect their personal use of gasoline to the larger problem of emissions in this sector. In other words, people won’t change unless they understand they’re part of the problem. The labels are intended to be a gentle reminder to encourage people to make informed choices to reduce their gas use and be part of the solution to global warming. Ideally they will refer consumers to the city's climate action plan for suggestions on how to reduce their gas use.
We congratulate the people who created and promoted the Beyond the Pump campaign for this significant achievement. But the city council action is only the first step in the establishment of a law. Stay tuned.
Shown on right, sample label for San Francisco.