sweden petrol pump labels
Browsing labels at the bowser

In a move to confront motorists about the environmental damage a tank of petrol can do, Sweden will label petrol pumps with climate impact information.

When you are standing there topping up the tank the pump a label will show the relative climate impact of the fuel you are using, including the proportion of fossil fuels it contains, and the proportion of renewables.

Electric charging stations will have similar labels.

It will also show the origin of the fuel: for example fuel from Saudi Arabia, or electricity from wind power, will be so labelled.

The label in the illustration is just that, an illustration, but it shows how the move could be implemented when it becomes law in 2020.

Filling a petrol tank is usually a largely unconscious action, with consumers giving little thought to the consequences for the earth’s climate.

In Australia a large proportion of greenhouse emissions come from transportation, and if we are to meet our responsibilities for CO2 reduction, our use of fossil fuels for transport will have to be reduced dramatically.

In Sweden the trigger for change has been the onset of regular forest fires in areas where it was always too wet and cold to burn.

"When the climate impact of the fuel is clearly visible at the very place we choose to pour it into our car, we will feel our personal responsibility", says Per Östborn, campaign manager at the Swedish Association of Green Motorists.

"We are very happy that the eco-labels will also provide information about raw materials and their countries of origin.”

"To avoid putting the origin on display will keep retailers away from fuels that contribute to the devastation of rain forests or fatten brutal, authoritarian regimes.

"If they nevertheless import such fuels consumers will turn their backs on them."

The Swedes realise that one country alone cannot make a difference with labelling, so they have designed the system so that it can be deployed across Europe in the future.

The petrol companies will also be required to have websites that provide the full information behind the label on the pumps.

The underlying purpose is to make the differences in climate impact of fossil fuels, biofuels and electricity clear to the public, to raise general awareness of the importance of sustainable fuels, and to allow Swedish fuel producers and retailers to compete sustainability and fairly .

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