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Lyft Inc. plans to spend millions of dollars a year to fund projects that would offset the pollution created by its drivers. The move could help the second-largest U.S. ride-hailing company draw environmentally conscious customers from Uber Technologies Inc.
As part of the program, Lyft hired a company, called 3Degrees, to oversee carbon-offset investments. Those will include efforts to reduce pollution in auto manufacturing and forest conservation.
“We feel immense responsibility for the profound impact that Lyft will have on our planet,” founders Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote in a blog post. “As we continue to grow, we have a greater responsibility to dedicate material resources to our vision and values.”
The move is sure to endear Lyft to its urban base of riders and drivers. The company positions itself as a friendlier alternative to Uber, a message that got a boost during the final year of Travis Kalanick’s tenure as Uber chief executive officer. Lyft’s primary U.S. competitor saw hundreds of thousands of customers delete the Uber app from their phones in protest last year.
But Uber has tried to burnish its reputation since then. It replaced Kalanick with the more affable Dara Khosrowshahi. After years of resisting, Uber copied Lyft by embracing the most-demanded feature from drivers: the ability to add a tip within the app. Uber has said its goal is to make it easier to live without owning a car and reduce congestion. Last week, Uber acquired Jump Bikes, a bicycle rental startup, citing the potential to reduce pollution. But Uber doesn’t have a companywide sustainability plan comparable to Lyft’s.
Lyft declined to estimate how much it would spend on carbon offsets but described it as a “multi-million dollar investment in the first year alone,” according to the founders’ blog post. “By committing significant financial resources to these offsets, we’re building into our business a strong incentive to pursue shared rides and the displacement of gasoline-powered vehicles,” they wrote. “The more shared rides and clean vehicles on the platform, the fewer carbon offsets we will need to purchase.”
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.