Uber and Lyft have always rejected criticism of pollution and traffic congestion, not least because it was difficult to get an exact indicator of how much these services contributed to daily emissions. A new study released today seems to have a more precise answer to this question.
According to Union of Concerned Scientists, the trips of Uber and Lyft, the two giants of “on demand” road transport, cause on average 70% more climate pollution than the transport they replace.
The report suggests that Uber and Lyft could reduce these emissions with a more concerted effort to electrify their vehicle fleet or by incentivizing customers to do joint rides. Also because the situation has seriously deteriorated.
"However, these strategies alone will address neither the increases in vehicle mileage nor the growing congestion problems," states the report. "For rides to help improve climate and congestion outcomes, it is desirable that a company like Lyft or Uber transport people with grouped and electric rides."
It's a big deal, but both Uber and Lyft have shown a willingness to reduce their carbon footprint. Also because it is evident that the mechanism does not work, the costs for the environment are too high. So far, their bouquets include introducing bike and scooter sharing services, integrated public transport planning and ticketing in their respective apps, and incentive programs to get drivers to switch to electric cars.
The efforts of Uber and Lyft
Lyft launched a multimillion-dollar investment to become a completely carbon-free transportation service through the purchase of carbon offsets, while Uber has started providing cash incentives to some drivers in the USA who use electric vehicles.
Despite these efforts, however, the vast majority of journeys that take place on both Uber and Lyft platforms are in nitro vehicles. Companies have tried to promote joint rides, but customers have shown reluctance to share their travels. Their efforts to better connect to mass transportation are slow. And their bicycle and scooter sharing services are subject to local regulations and market conditions and as such may be unreliable.
A more systematic effort to tackle climate pollution is still missing from Uber and Lyft. We wait and hope.