Whenever you see the word Uber next to the words Climate Change, you know that the implications are going to be bad. A combination of induced demand and dead miles as drivers shuttle to passengers means that Uber’s climate record is not a very peachy one. As part of the ride hailing giant’s commitment to change, especially post-COVID, the company is rolling out changes to help it go greener. The most visible to users is the introduction of Uber Green to the US, letting users request a ride in a cleaner car.
Uber Green is available in a number of European cities already, letting users opt for a “green” car to take them around. Its implementation in the US and Canada will be similar -- select a ride, and a card will pop up asking if you want to select a green vehicle. You’ll be charged a $1 surcharge for doing so, but this enables you to vote with your wallet and reduce your personal emissions. Though still gas-powered vehicles, hybrids -- which are a vital tool in the fight against climate changes -- are counted as green in the program.
The company has said that it will help incentivize drivers -- as part of an $800 million push -- and riders to go green. Drivers of all clean cars will get a $0.50 extra every ride, while those toting zero-tailpipe-emission cars -- battery EVs -- get an additional $1 for their trouble. Riders, meanwhile, will get additional Uber Rewards points for every ride which can be used to pay for rides and meals.
Uber is also teaming up with car manufacturers, like GM in the US and Renault / Nissan in Europe, to help make battery EVs cheaper to buy for drivers. The company will also affirm commitments to build out its own EV charging infrastructure and partner with local governments to support local clean air initiatives. Naturally, the addition of Lime scooters in several cities is also seen as a big win to increase low-emission travel.
Uber’s David Reich, who heads up the company’s transit division, has said that Uber isn’t planning to ditch Uber Pool and non-stop shared rides. The hope is that, when the pandemic subsides, users will be able to go back to embracing shared mobility to reduce the number of cars on the road. In addition, the company is rolling out Uber + Transit to Chicago and Sydney to help switch between public transit and Uber in one go.
To round off today’s announcements, Uber has said that it wants to be more accountable and transparent about both its business and its impact. Today, the company has published a Climate Assessment and Performance Report, which seeks to show how Uber’s carbon emissions are falling. It’s likely the report will require some time to scrutinize, at which point we can see if the company is representing its impact fairly.