Lyft claims every ride its users take is now carbon neutral. That's thanks to a new initiative to purchase carbon offsets, which are investments in environmental projects that are calculated to cancel out the carbon emissions of vehicles used in Lyft's ride-hailing service.
In a Medium blog post, Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green pledged a "multi-million dollar investment in the first year alone," offsetting "over one million metric tons of carbon." That's the equivalent of planting tens of millions of trees, or taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road, Zimmer and Green wrote.
Carbon offset works by funding projects that have an environmental benefit. The blog post said projects funded by Lyft focus on "the reduction of emissions in the automotive manufacturing process, renewable energy programs, forestry projects, and the capture of emissions from landfills." Lyft is working with an organization called 3Degrees to verify the efficacy of these projects, including ensuring that the emissions reductions would not have happened without Lyft investment. All projects will be U.S.-based, Lyft said.
Lyft's ultimate goal is to replace all of the vehicles in its ride-hailing fleet with autonomous electric cars, but that's likely a long way off. The company's self-driving car efforts have been relatively small-scale so far, and automakers will have to ramp up production of autonomous electric cars in order to provide Lyft with enough vehicles. The goal will likely also require Lyft to shift to owning and operating its own fleet, rather than relying on freelance drivers to provide their own cars.
Last year, Lyft joined We Are Still In, a group of businesses and local governments organized by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that pledged continued support for the Paris Climate Accord after President Donald Trump decided to end U.S. participation.