A group of students from St. Thomas University is urging the City of Fredericton to require gas stations to put climate change warning labels on gas pump nozzles as part of a national campaign.
The goal is to help people connect cause and effect, said student Karen Buckle, likening it to the health warnings on cigarette packages.
"It's quite possibly one of the cheapest climate interventions on the planet," she said.
When consumers reach for the gas nozzle, they would see messages about the impact burning fossil fuels is having on animals, the land, and the health of children, said Buckle.
The Toronto-based environmental group Our Horizon, which has the motto: Think global. Act municipal, came up with the idea.
Our Horizon describes climate change as the "greatest challenge of our time," with carbon dioxide levels the highest they have ever been in human history.
The group wants Canadians to lobby their municipal governments to adopt the warning labels.
One proposed label has a picture of a caribou and a fawn with the message: Use of this fuel product contributes to climate change which may put up to 30 per cent of species at a likely risk of extinction.
Another one states: Use of this fuel product contributes to climate change which may cause drought and famine.
"Really, what the warning labels are trying to get at is to individuals' hearts and try to pull on that moral conscience," said Buckle.
The pitch by the university students to Fredericton council comes just days after the United Nations's panel on climate change issued dire warnings.
Student Nicholas Decarie says the warning labels are a small action to wake people up.
"We're not expecting people to stop driving overnight, that would be unreasonable of us," he said.
"But we are hoping that they make more positive choices — Perhaps I don't need to drive today, perhaps I can just walk, or take public transport and lessen my carbon footprint."
A Fredericton committee is now looking into whether a city bylaw could, or should be put into place.