During the Covid-19 pandemic much of the world hid away. People stopped traveling, dining out and transport use declined as companies implemented work-from-home policies. This caused CO2 emissions to plummet and according to Nature Climate Change emissions were 17 percent less than the year prior. Although this reduction is very positive, a short-lived drop in emissions won’t change the overall CO2 levels in the atmosphere. So amidst this quietened world, businesses started to rethink some of their damaging practices and devise new environmentally-centred goals. Uber was one of them.
Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, hailed the positive impact the pandemic had on the environment. With people prevented from traveling “blue skies” replaced “smog above city skylines”. She stressed the existential threat of climate change and the urgency in which every business needs to act. “We want to do our part to build back better and drive a green recovery in our cities”. Uber announced their plan to reduce its environmental impact earlier this month and this is what it entails.
Uber’s end goal to help save the planet is to become a zero-emission platform worldwide by 2040. They’ll do this by ensuring that 100 percent of Uber transport takes place in zero-emission vehicles, whether that be cars, scooters or public transit.
Before this, they want every Uber car in Canada, Europe and the United States to be electric. They believe this is achievable by 2030 if they work with local stakeholders to create policies that make it feasible for every driver to transition to an electric car.
But how are they going to put these plans into practice? They’ve devised four key steps.
The first is they are going to expand Uber Green so people can more readily opt to travel in hybrid or electric vehicles. The service is expanding to many other cities in the US and Canada such as Portland, Toronto, San Francisco and Chicago and will continue expanding in Europe. For just $1 extra, people can select Uber Green and part of this premium customer payment will go to the drivers of the cars. Their second step is putting $800 million towards assisting drivers’ transition to electric vehicles. Uber drivers who own an electric vehicle will receive an extra $1.50 on every trip or an extra $0.50 if they own a hybrid vehicle. It is hoped this extra cash will incentivize drivers to transition to a more economical vehicle.
Uber’s third step is to invest in different modes of transport that provide easy alternatives to personal cars. For example, Uber recently spearheaded a $170 million investment into Lime, an electric scooter and bike company providing more ways for people to travel by reducing their emissions without having to invest too much money.
Their final step is to be transparent with the public so they can be held accountable for their ambitious goals. With the current Californian lawsuit suing Uber for wage theft and unfair business practices – Uber is stepping up to bring forth positive changes where they can. As Paul Sawers says in Venture Beat “for a company such as Uber, whose core product has such a direct and correlatable impact on the environment through the millions of cars on its platform, the need to embrace a greener mantra is particularly crucial”.
We can only hope that more transport companies follow in Uber’s footsteps. Perhaps this “pandemic pledge” will encourage more consumers to protect the planet by opting for services such Uber Green. Paying that little bit extra for a greener ride will reduce carbon emissions and have a greater impact on the world in the long run.