Lyft Goes Green In A Big Way

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Uber is the largest ride-hailing service in the world, but its reputation has been tarnished by the take no prisoners, slash and burn policies of its founder, Travis Kalanick. Lyft is a kinder, gentler ride-hailing company with a reputation for being more environmentally aware. That reputation is about to get a big boost, as the company has just announced a plan to purchase enough carbon credits to make all its global operations carbon neutral.

Lyft logo

In a blog post on Medium dated April 19, Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green write, “In the future all vehicles will operate with clean energy. But climate change is not waiting. It’s happening now, and it presents a clear and immediate threat to our world and those who live in it. Action cannot wait. Today, we’re excited to announce our next action: to immediately offset the carbon emissions from all rides globally. This is an ongoing commitment, meaning that any Lyft ride from now on will be carbon neutral. Starting today, your decision to ride with Lyft will support the fight against climate change.”

The purchase of carbon credits will cost the company several million dollars a year. Those credits are expected to offset more than a million tons of carbon emissions each year. That’s equivalent to planting tens of millions of trees or taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road. according to Engadget. Lyft’s investment and impact will continue to grow as the company grows.

There’s more to the plan than carbon credits. Lyft will also fund “emission mitigation efforts, including the reduction of emissions in the automotive manufacturing process, forestry projects, and the capture of emissions from landfills.” It has hired environmental monitoring firm 3Degrees to verify that those initiatives go to promote new carbon reduction programs, things that would not have happened if not for Lyft’s investment.

“The stark reality is that transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. As a growing part of the transportation ecosystem, we are holding ourselves accountable to being part of the solution,” Zimmer and Green write. “We’re in the unique and fortunate position to be a driving force in bringing forward a more sustainable future, and we don’t take that lightly.”

Lyft has hired Paul Hawken, editor of the book Drawdown, to be its environmental policy adviser. After the US withdrew from the Paris climate accords, Lyft signed on to the We’re Still In program launched by Michael Bloomberg. “We’re in the unique and fortunate position to be a driving force in bringing forward a more sustainable future, and we don’t take that lightly,” Zimmer and Green write. “By committing significant financial resources to these offsets, we’re building into our business a strong incentive to pursue shared rides and the displacement of gasoline powered vehicles. The more shared rides and clean vehicles on the platform, the fewer carbon offsets we will need to purchase.”

People have choices in the marketplace. Clearly, Lyft hopes that by taking a strong position on environmental sustainability, more people will choose to do business with it than with those other guys.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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