The U.S. transportation sector has become the top source of carbon dioxide emissions in the country, replacing power plants, reports Laura Bliss for Pacific Standard. Ride-hailing company, Lyft, announced earlier this month that all its passenger rides will be carbon neutral. It plans to end vehicle emissions by investing in carbon offset projects, as well as incorporating electric and autonomous vehicles into its fleet.
Both Lyft and Uber believe that their service will vastly reduce private car ownership, consequently “displacing millions of gasoline-powered cars, and helping the United States and world reach their climate goals,” Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green wrote on the company’s blog. Similarly, Uber has turned its focus to providing more bike-sharing, car-sharing, and transit-locating services on its app stating that it “is about scaling up alternatives that reduce personal vehicle use in cities.”
However, Bliss cautions, “is vehicle ownership really what counts when measuring the industry’s environmental impact?” Bliss explains that what counts is how many miles are driven on the road, not who owns the vehicle. Lyft and Uber drivers often spend a lot of time traveling without any passengers in the car. According to estimates from two of the largest markets, Ubers and Lyfts cause more emissions when they are without passengers. This contributes to drag on other cars that burn extra gas and generate more fumes sitting in worsened traffic.