Lyft, recognizing the impact of its ride-hailing platform on the environment, is making a “multi-million” dollar investment in carbon offsets. Within the first year of this effort, Lyft says it expects to be able to offset about one million metric tons of carbon.
“The stark reality is that transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote in a blog post. “As a growing part of the transportation ecosystem, we are holding ourselves accountable to being part of the solution.”
Lyft is doing this in partnership with 3Degrees. In general, some carbon offset solutions entail capturing and destroying methane from landfills and animal manure, as well as sustainable forestry that absorbs carbon from forests. Lyft, however, is specifically putting its money toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from an automotive parts manufacturing process in Michigan, hydrodec oil recycling in Ohio and other projects.
For a lot of people, Lyft, Uber and other ride-hailing companies effectively act as stand-ins for public transport, biking or even walking. In New York City, the volume of people using Lyft, Uber and other ride-hailing apps tripled to 500,000 rides per day since 2015, according to a 2016 report from Schaller Consulting. That increased trip volume and mileage resulted in the addition of about 550 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the equivalent of energy consumption emissions from more than 26,000 homes in one year.
Until autonomous ride-hailing networks hit the mainstream, more rides means more miles driven, which means a greater carbon footprint.