It’s been a big year for Lyft. In July, the ride-sharing company inked a $250 million acquisition deal with Motivate, the largest bike-share operator in the United States. Its market share, while still lagging behind that of its embattled competitor Uber, grew by 30%. And there are rumors that it will IPO next year.
With all this power, though, comes great responsibility–for all the carbon emissions associated with its operations, says Sam Arons, Lyft’s director of sustainability. Earlier this year, the company pledged to buy enough carbon offsets to neutralize the emissions from rides taken with Lyft. The company’s offsetting purchases directly finance carbon mitigation efforts, like renewable energy development, reforestation efforts, and the capture of emissions from landfills.
Now, Lyft has committed to buying enough offsets to neutralize the remainder of its emissions–beyond those produced by rides–and will also purchase enough renewable energy through its partner 3Degrees to cover all its electricity consumption. “We’re now a fully carbon-neutral company,” Arons says. Lyft’s offsetting efforts, which total over 1 million metric tons of carbon, are equivalent, according to the company, to taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road.
Of course, there’s an inherent irony in a ride-share company measuring its sustainability success by the metric of cars removed from the road. As long as they’re powered by fossil fuels, cars are one of the single biggest contributors to carbon emissions in American cities. The company has been outspoken about its desire to see a switch to electric vehicles as soon as charging infrastructure scales.
“Ultimately, we need to avoid or eliminate all these emissions in the first place, and that means electrification and full charging from renewable energy,” Arons says.