Lyft Commits to Complete Carbon Neutrality

CC BY 2.0. Kārlis Dambrāns

Cars, rides, everything will be offset. But that's just one piece of the puzzle.

I recognize this is heresy in some environmental circles, but I've always liked the idea of carbon offsets. It's not that they are a solution to climate change by themselves, but they do allow companies and individuals to shift the conversation from direct carbon footprint to overall impact (positive and negative) on the problem of climate change.

So I was delighted earlier this year when—alongside significant commitments to cutting direct emissions—Lyft promised to carbon offset all user rides. And I'm even more delighted now to hear that Lyft is going beyond this commitment, pledging instead to offset all company-related emissions, as well as to purchase enough renewable energy to cover every office space, driver hub, and electric vehicle mile undertaken during the operation of the business.

It's one reminder among many that critics of carbon offsets—who often assail the concept as an excuse to 'do nothing'—miss the fact that offsets are usually deployed by those who are already doing an awful lot. And while there is genuine, legitimate concern about services like Lyft undermining mass transit, it's worth noting that the company appears to also have its eye on this ball: launching a Lyft Bikes program to help with the 'last mile' commuter challenge, and partnering with transit agencies to aim for 50% shared rides by the end of 2020 and integrating their services with public transit options.