Saturday, April 21, 2018

Lyft Pledges to Cancel Out the Carbon from Your Next Ride

Lyft logo (Credit: Josh Edelson/AP Images) Click to Enlarge.
Lyft, the ridesharing technology company, announced Thursday that it’s balancing out the carbon emissions from its fleet by purchasing carbon offsets.  Basically, this means the firm will plow some of its revenue into funding projects that reduce greenhouse gases — think: planting trees or investing in wind energy projects — in order to cancel out the emissions from the more-than-a-million rides its app facilitates each day.

The carbon-neutral pledge suggests the company is taking some responsibility for the roughly 50 million monthly rides serviced through its platform.  It’s also part of a larger strategy to lessen Lyft’s carbon footprint and to provide a billion rides a year via autonomous electric vehicles by 2025.  Some energy experts have applauded the announcement, while suggesting it should be the first in a multistep process to ensure Lyft isn’t just removing the pollution it adds, but that it’s making less in the first place.

“I think it’s very much a partial step,” says Daniel Kammen, a professor of energy at University of California, Berkeley.  “Recognizing it and offsetting it is not the full answer,” he says.  “But it’s certainly a great start.”

While ridesharing has certainly been an innovative technology, Kammen notes, it’s not great for the planet.  Emissions-wise, Americans continuing to hop into cars across the country is something to worry about.

“Transportation, primarily driven by an increase in vehicle miles, has surpassed the power sector as the largest source of climate emissions in the United States,” writes Regina Clewlow, a transportation expert and founder of the mobility data platform Populus, in an email to Grist.

At University of California Davis, Clewlow researched the ecosystems around ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber.  Her report from last fall found that the startups’ services discourage people from using public transportation, walking, and biking.  In fact 49 to 61 percent of the trips offered by those companies would have either not happened or been made by bike, foot, or public transit.

Read more at Lyft Pledges to Cancel Out the Carbon from Your Next Ride

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