Story at a glance

  • Cambridge, Mass., passed an ordinance in January mandating warning labels be placed on gas pumps.
  • The warnings will include information about the effects of fossil fuel consumption on human health and the environment.
  • The labels could be placed on the gas pumps some time in December.

The city of Cambridge, Mass., will be the first in the U.S. to require warning labels on gas station pumps to help consumers better understand the risks associated with fossil fuel use and the climate change crisis. 

The city passed an ordinance in January that mandates warnings similar to those that appear on cigarette packages be placed at the pump. While it’s not clear at this time what the labels will look like, the warnings will include information about the effects of fossil fuel consumption on human health and the environment. 


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“Requiring these labels at the gas pump will provide consumers with information about the impact of fossil fuel consumption directly at the point of purchase, which may encourage them to reduce their consumption and use alternative forms of transportation when appropriate,” the ordinance says. 

“The fight to reverse climate change requires that everyone take action to change their behavior, and the City must underscore the fact that each individual’s behavior can make an impact on the environment and on public health.” 

The mandate is the first of its kind to pass in the U.S., although an effort to require such warnings first kicked off years ago in Berkeley, Calif., where it was unsuccessful. Other cities such as San Francisco, Santa Monica, Calif., and Seattle at one time considered the warning labels. 

Cambridge City Council member Patty Nolan said the city is working on fashioning the label and it could be on the pumps sometime in December, according to NBC 10 Boston

The ordinance is part of the city’s Climate Action Plan, which includes a goal of reaching carbon neutrality over the next three decades.

The move comes as governments around the U.S. have recently announced bold actions to curb harmful greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in September announced plans to phase out gas-powered cars, requiring all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state to be emission free by 2035.


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Published on Nov 23, 2020