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Lyft on Carbon Offsets and Climate Commitments

  • Date: 13 September 2018
  • Author: Sam Arons, Director of Sustainability at Lyft

Since 2017, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been part of Lyft’s Round Up & Donate program, which gives Lyft riders the option to round up their fare to the next dollar and donate the difference to WWF.

This year, Lyft’s been working to reduce its carbon footprint. As the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) takes place in San Francisco this week, WWF caught up with Lyft’s Director of Sustainability, Sam Arons, to learn more about the company’s commitments.

Sam Arons blue

Why does Lyft care about its environmental impact and making climate commitments?

Lyft was founded on the belief that technology will enable us to dramatically reduce carbon emissions from the transportation system while improving quality of life and access to opportunity for all Americans. We’re more determined now than ever before to make that vision a reality. We now give more than 10 million rides a week - and as we continue to grow, we have a greater responsibility to dedicate material resources to our vision and values.

In the future, all vehicles will be electric and operate using clean electricity. 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. That's why we took the important steps to immediately offset the carbon emissions from all rides globally - and earlier this week, we announced that Lyft is now a fully carbon neutral company. We have also committed to purchase enough renewable energy to cover the electricity consumption of every Lyft office space, driver hub, and electric vehicle mile on our platform.

These actions are not the full solution, but an important step forward. By committing significant financial resources to these efforts, 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.

As a company whose business model relies on cars, what steps are you taking to reduce emissions?

Back in April, just before Earth Day, Lyft announced that we would be offsetting the carbon emissions from our rides And this week for GCAS, we’ve doubled down on that commitment by announcing that Lyft is now a fully carbon neutral company, and that we’re covering 100% of our electricity consumption, including EV charging, with renewable energy.  What we’ve effectively done is imposed a carbon price on ourselves as a way to drive CO2 out of our business. We’re excited about this for a few reasons. First of all, we think it’s important to take responsibility for our environmental impact, and this was a way to step up and do that right away.

How do you plan to achieve your carbon offset commitment?

When we started this project, we obtained a partner to help us build a portfolio of offset projects that would be in the right places and volumes to offset all ride emissions. These offset projects were selected after rigorous vetting. That’s how we kicked off the project. Since the announcement and selecting the projects, we have been buying the offsets on an ongoing basis to cover the emissions as they occur.

Do you work with others across industry? If so, what steps are you taking to drive the industry forward?

“We’re already starting to have the conversations that will bring a whole ecosystem of different players together to achieve this electrified future.”

Sam Arons
Director of Sustainability at Lyft

Lyft is part of several different industries, two major ones being the transportation industry and the tech industry. It’s important to us to work across both, and with our colleagues in local and state governments. One area where this will be particularly important is with electric vehicles. EVs will be a very important piece in the future of our sustainability program at Lyft. At the end of the day, it’s good to be offsetting carbon emissions, and we’re very proud that we’re doing that, but that can’t be the ultimate answer. We need to eliminate emissions to begin with rather than emit and then have to offset. To do that, we’ll need all our rides to be in electric vehicles that are charged from renewable energy to have no emissions at all. Achieving this will require working with auto manufacturers who will be the ones to create more models of vehicles that have sufficient range for a ride-sharing application – about 200 miles at a minimum. We’ll also work with electric utilities who will provide the grid infrastructure that can support more charging stations, and with third-party charging providers to get those stations deployed. And we’ll need to work with state and local governments on permitting and placement of charging stations. We’re already starting to have the conversations that will bring a whole ecosystem of different players together to achieve this electrified future.
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The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.

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