Driving a Green RecoveryWritten by
Everything changed in 2020. Months of rolling shutdowns cost millions of people their livelihoods and pushed cities and businesses into survival mode. Longstanding inequities have worsened, with many of the same communities that have been plagued by air pollution now vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.
Yet during lockdown, blue skies replaced smog above city skylines. Pollution levels fell and wildlife returned. The pandemic has caused many cities to rethink their infrastructure, transforming parking into parks and creating more space for walkers and cyclists. We’ve had a glimpse of what life could be like with less traffic and cleaner air—in cities built for people, not for cars.
But carbon emissions will return to “normal” soon. When two-thirds of the world’s population was under lockdown in early April, carbon emissions fell 17% compared to last year. By June, the drop was only 5%. And the fires that continue to rage across our home state of California are a sobering reminder of the urgency of the climate crisis.
Instead of going back to business as usual, Uber is taking this moment as an opportunity to reduce our environmental impact. It’s our responsibility as the largest mobility platform in the world to more aggressively tackle the challenge of climate change. We want to do our part to build back better and drive a green recovery in our cities.
While we’ve taken some important steps in recent years, from expanding micromobility options to offering public transit in the Uber app, we know we’ve got a long way to go. That’s why we’re working with the World Resources Institute, Transport & Environment (T&E), and others to become a stronger partner in the fight against climate change by leveraging our innovation, technology, and talent to expedite the global transition to clean energy.
Uber is committing to become a fully zero-emission platform by 2040, with 100% of rides taking place in zero-emission vehicles, on public transit, or with micromobility. We’re also setting an earlier goal to have 100% of rides take place in electric vehicles (EVs) in US, Canadian, and European cities by 2030. In fact, we believe we can achieve this 2030 goal in any major city where we can work with local stakeholders to implement policies that ensure a fair transition to EVs for drivers. In addition to our platform goals, we’re also committed to reaching net-zero emissions from our corporate operations by 2030. All told, hitting these goals would put us a decade ahead of Paris Climate Agreement targets.
Goals are important, but we know actions matter most. Uber will take a holistic approach to reducing emissions, starting with 4 key actions:
- Expanding Uber Green to make it easier for riders to choose to travel in hybrids or EVs.
- Committing $800 million in resources to help hundreds of thousands of drivers transition to EVs by 2025.
- Investing in our multimodal network to promote sustainable alternatives to personal cars.
- Being transparent and accountable to the public along the way.
The world is at a critical juncture, and we all have a role to play. Uber is aiming high. We’ll seek to build the most efficient, decarbonized, and multimodal platform in the world for on-demand mobility. While we’re not the first to set ambitious goals in transitioning to EVs, we intend to be the first to make it happen. Competing on sustainability is a win for the world, and today we challenge other mobility platforms to transparency, accountability, and more action.
This is a start, and we expect to be judged against our actions. The ultimate success of our business will rest on our ability to transition our platform to clean energy in partnership with drivers, industry innovators, and governments. It’s the right thing to do for our customers, our cities, our shareholders, and the planet we all share.
Uber’s 4 key actions to tackle climate change
- Expanding Uber Green
Today we’re launching Uber Green in more than 15 US and Canadian cities. For just $1 extra, riders can now tap a button to request a ride in an EV or hybrid vehicle; such trips produce up to 44% fewer carbon emissions than driving a gas-powered car alone. By the end of the year, Uber Green will be available in more than 65 cities globally.
We’ll also incentivize consumers to make greener choices when they ride. Riders using Uber Green will receive 3x Uber Rewards points for every trip taken, compared to 2x points for a typical UberX ride.
- Helping drivers transition to EVs
Making it easier for riders to choose greener rides is only one part of the equation; helping drivers make an equitable transition to electric vehicles is even more important. Today, Uber is committing more than $800 million in resources to help hundreds of thousands of drivers in the US, Canada, and Europe transition to battery EVs by 2025.
We’ll help drivers go electric more affordably through various market-based solutions, including a rider surcharge on Uber Green trips and fees collected from innovative programs like our London and French Clean Air Plans. And we’ll work with third-party experts in environmental justice, such as EVNoire and GRID Alternatives, to ensure that these resources reach drivers from underserved communities and those who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
More earnings for drivers
Drivers who choose to drive greener and electric vehicles will earn extra money with each trip. In the US and Canada, hybrid and EV drivers will receive an extra $0.50 directly from the rider on every Uber Green trip completed. Since our goal is to ultimately transition all drivers to zero-emission vehicles, drivers using a zero-emission vehicle (namely, a battery EV) will receive an additional $1.00 for every trip they complete in the US and Canada. This means that battery EV drivers* will receive both incentives—a total of $1.50 extra—for every Uber Green trip they complete.
More savings for drivers
As experts remind us, affordable access to green vehicles and charging equipment is paramount to lowering emissions. That’s why we’re teaming up with vehicle manufacturers, charging network providers, and EV rental and fleet companies to provide millions of dollars in EV savings to drivers around the world.
Specifically, we are working with leading electric carmakers to extend attractive offers on electric vehicles to drivers: GM in the US and Canada, and Renault-Nissan across European cities in the UK, France, Netherlands, and Portugal. We’ll also expand EV access through Avis in the US to make it easier for drivers to rent a zero-emission vehicle. We’ve coordinated discounted EV charging around the world in locations where drivers most need it with BP, EVgo, Enel X, Izivia by EDF, and Power Dot. And we’re joining forces with emerging innovators like Ample, which offers a robotic alternative to EV battery charging, and Lithium Urban Technologies, which runs an electric fleet in India. By bringing together the diverse insights from dozens of companies from around the world, it’s our goal to give every driver the opportunity to more easily transition to a zero-emission vehicle.
Partnering with local governments
Finally, it’s clear that we urgently need more robust collaboration between industry and government stakeholders. This includes taking a more serious look together at what it will require to achieve a fair transition for drivers. In London, for example, our team has been hard at work on our all-electric 2025 goal since the launch of the London Clean Air Plan, and we’re making real progress. In 2019 alone, London drivers completed more than one million journeys in electric vehicles. And in France, we’re announcing a Clean Air Plan, which sets aside money and includes a matching commitment by Uber toward EV purchases made by French drivers.
In order to scale this progress across Europe, we’re releasing a white paper today that outlines a road map for partnering with public and private leaders in major EU cities to achieve 100% all-electric on-demand mobility.
After conducting this in-depth research to build our path forward for Europe, we’ve come to believe we can reach 100% battery EV rides in US and Canadian cities as well as in any major city in the world by working together to combine the best of our technology with innovative policies that facilitate a fair, rapid transition for drivers. That’s why we’re consulting with the WRI, T&E, the Sierra Club, GRID Alternatives, and EVNoire to produce a global road map for enabling 100% EV on-demand mobility in major cities by or before 2030.
- Investing in our multimodal network
Uber has long envisioned a future with far less reliance on personal car ownership, a goal we share with cities. We’re doubling down on this vision by investing in our multimodal network to provide sustainable alternatives to the personal car.
We’ll offer bikes and scooters—2 of the best ways to lower emissions for shorter trips—in our app wherever possible. We’ve already integrated Lime fully into the Uber app across 55+ cities globally, including Austin, Los Angeles, Munich, Portland, Rome, Zurich, and many more, nearly doubling availability from 2019.
Shared rides expansion
We look forward to expanding Nonstop Shared Rides, our last-in, first-out carpooling product, to all 50+ global cities where Uber Pool is available. This feature prompts you after you request UberX to join a Pool trip headed in the same direction as your destination. You’ll be the last to be picked up and the first to be dropped off, all while saving cash. While we’ve paused Uber Pool since March to help flatten the curve during the pandemic, we continue to monitor the situation closely and will expand this feature as soon as it’s safe to do so.
The pandemic hit public transit agencies especially hard, with operations driven to a near standstill. As communities recover from COVID-19 and people start moving again, Uber will partner with public transit to avoid the return to traffic gridlock and pollution.
We’ll start by expanding our Journey Planning feature to 6 new cities, bringing the total to 40 cities globally by year’s end. This means riders can choose their destination and see pricing options, real-time schedules, and walking directions to and from transit stations. We’ve also expanded in-app ticketing to 10+ total cities this year, so people can purchase and use transit passes directly in the Uber app. And with health and safety top of mind, we’ve redesigned our touchless ticketing feature for transit agencies so they can more easily integrate it in their cities.
Finally, we’re introducing a new multimodal feature in the Uber app: Uber and Transit. Starting in September 2020 in Chicago and Sydney, riders can tap this option and plan their entire journey, combining UberX with walking directions and city bus, subway, or train connections. Powered through real-time transit information and Uber’s on-demand mobility network, it’s the latest way we’re partnering with public transit to create solutions to congestion and reduce everyday use of personal cars.
- Being transparent and accountable
As we learned with our US Safety Report, progress starts with taking an honest look at where we stand today and sharing results to drive accountability. That’s why we’re releasing our first-ever Climate Assessment and Performance Report, making Uber the only rideshare company and one of the first companies more broadly to measure and report on emissions from customers’ real-world use of its products.
Our report analyzes real-world data from the nearly 4 billion rides facilitated by Uber’s platform in the United States and Canada from 2017 through 2019. Findings indicate that trips taken with Uber are less carbon-intensive than traditional on-demand mobility services like taxis—and the efficiency of our platform improves even as trips grow. Over the 2017-2019 period, we estimate that platform-wide efficiency gains resulted in the avoidance of half a million metric tons of CO2 emissions and the use of 56 million gallons of gasoline by drivers. We also found that a ride taken on the Uber platform is significantly less carbon-intensive than single-occupant driving (which makes up 40% of all road travel in the US). And drivers on the platform use more efficient hybrid vehicles 6 times more than average car owners do. But it’s not good enough. Carbon intensity for rides taken with Uber is still higher than that of average-occupancy personal cars.
We must do better, and we look forward to using the data in this report to reduce our carbon footprint. Uber has joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to ensure that we implement leading practices in emissions accounting, target setting, and transparency. And we’ll begin providing riders with information on the carbon impact of their travel, as well as tips for how to reduce it.
Christiana Figueres, Founding Partner, Global Optimism
“We applaud Uber’s bold commitment to reduce carbon emissions globally alongside its aim to partner locally. When demand is forecasted to increase exponentially at the same time that emissions have to be reduced dramatically, innovation from corporations like Uber becomes critical to decarbonizing the transport sector. We hope other companies will follow suit.”
Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute
“Transportation is the fastest growing source of climate-disrupting pollution, and ride-hailing companies, like Uber, can play a vital role in changing course. Uber is demonstrating progress through its first sustainability report and by committing to set an ambitious science-based emissions target. As Uber increases its focus on low-carbon transportation, it can expand public transit integration and micro-mobility options, especially for low-income communities, and catalyze the electric vehicle revolution by supporting policies that prioritize the most intensively used vehicles first. With its roadmap, Uber can help push the transportation sector forward by promoting the equitable, sustainable and safe movement of people.”
William Todts, Executive Director, Transport and Environment
“People across Europe are sick of pollution and congestion. Shared electric mobility is key to solving these problems. And the right place to start is with high-mileage drivers who’ll benefit first from cheaper-to-run, clean electric vehicles. Uber’s commitment to rapidly electrify its fleet in major European cities is good news. Now it’s time for Europe’s majors to show leadership. We need all major cities in Europe to introduce zero-emission zones, new pop-up bike lanes and cycle-only corridors, whilst providing easy access to charging, at home, at work and wherever people park.”
Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board
“Zero emission transportation is critical to achieving the world’s shared clean air and climate goals. Innovative companies like Uber have a leading role to play in this effort. Today’s announcement is an exciting step in the right direction.”
Dr. Shelley Francis, Principal, EVNoire
“Our work centers around a sustainable, multimodal future for all. We are at an inflection point where it is critical to decarbonize the mobility sector with particular focus on those who are often impacted first and worst through innovative strategies. We look forward to working with GRID Alternatives to help Uber to center Equity at the core of this initiative with beneficial economic, public health, mobility, and community outcomes.”
Zach Franklin, Chief Strategy Officer, GRID Alternatives
“Our vision is to create a rapid, equitable transition to a world powered by renewable energy that benefits everyone. That’s why we’re excited to partner with EVNoire to help Uber center racial, environmental and economic equity in its strategy to electrify and decarbonize transportation.”
Ronald T. Milam, Director of Evolving the Status Quo, Fehr and Peers
“Uber’s research to advance carbon intensity as a metric that transparently links transportation network decisions to more efficient travel outcomes is an important advancement for climate analysis. We look forward to applying it to help network users, operators, and regulators better understand the consequences of their transportation system decisions.
David Trujillo, Partner, TPG
“By sharing its real-world carbon impact, Uber is bringing new levels of accountability, transparency, and innovation to the climate conversation. As actively engaged investors, we’re proud of the meaningful progress the company is making in tackling one of the most significant issues of our time. Uber is raising the bar for other platform companies that enable transportation and logistics, and we’re thrilled to support them in their mission to become a zero-emissions mobility platform.”
Mayor Rick Kriseman of St.Petersburg, Florida and Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Environment Committee
“I commend Uber on continuing to develop robust sustainability initiatives, and their dedication to transparency and accountability as we get there together. Their efforts complement the important work being done in cities across America. I look forward to riding in an electric or hybrid Uber in the near future. My thanks to everyone at Uber for their commitment to a bright, sustainable future.”
Karen Redman, Regional Chair, Region of Waterloo
“Waterloo Region aims to be one of the most environmentally sustainable regions in the country. We are thrilled with this announcement and will continue to work with innovative partners like Uber to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”
Paul Hawken, Founder, Project Drawdown
“I applaud Uber’s commitment to develop shared, zero emission and multimodal mobility solutions. Creating universal mobility that is not carbon-based is what every city needs to become regenerative.”
Karen Vancluysen, Secretary General, POLIS
“POLIS cities and regions have been working towards a sustainable multimodal urban mobility ecosystem for many years. We welcome Uber’s continued efforts to exchange with POLIS and its members, as well as its commitment to improve the roll-out of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. As rightly noted in Uber’s SPARK! report, only through common efforts of various stakeholders and a comprehensive approach, we will be able to bring about substantial change, and reduce noise, air and greenhouse gas emissions in our beloved cities.”
Maria Tsavachidis, CEO, EIT Urban Mobility
“Transport induced noise, air pollution and CO2 emissions are detrimental to public health, the environment, and quality of life in European cities. Technologies and solutions for clean, connected and shared mobility already exist but we need to integrate them, and accelerate implementation and scaling. Electrification and shared Mobility are key for sustainable urban mobility, so we support Uber´s efforts and ambition to commit significant resources to the transition of electrification of its fleet and bringing together different key-players to cooperate.”
David Hochschild, Commissioner, California Energy Commission
“Today’s announcement by Uber to move vehicles on its platform to greener transportation through electrification is a positive step forward. California has bold, ambitious climate goals and Uber’s global influence and commitment to sustainability will help us reach them and accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.”
Susan Shaheen, Professor in Residence, Energy, Civil Infrastructure and Climate, Transportation Engineering, UC Berkeley and Vice Chair of the Transportation Research Board
“The proposed policies to help TNC drivers gain affordable access to home charging have the potential to reduce notable barriers to EV adoption and aid in greenhouse gas reductions.”
Professor Daniel Sperling, Distinguished Blue Planet Prize Professor, Founding Member of ITS-Davis, Board Member of California Air Resources Board
“Uber should be commended for their effort to provide transparency and specific actions to reduce carbon impacts. These are impressive corporate climate change commitments. Kudos to Uber for making themselves responsible and accountable.”
Mindy Lubber, CEO and President, Ceres
“We cannot address climate change without fundamentally transforming the transportation sector — which will require a rapid transition to electrification in addition to expanding low-carbon transportation alternatives. We welcome Uber to the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance and we applaud the company for making an industry-leading commitment to set a Science Based Target, as well as to take measures to electrify the vehicles on its platform and engage in policy advocacy that aligns with its climate goals. We’re looking forward to working with Uber to help it meet its goals and help drive change throughout the transportation sector.”
Josh Boone, Executive Director, Veloz
“We applaud Uber’s ambitious global commitments to electrify its transportation networks. It’s a big piece of Veloz’s electric for all vision and we can’t wait for millions of people around the world to go for their first electric ride, whether in a car or on a bike or scooter.”
Jeff Allen, Executive Director, Forth Mobility
“We commend Uber’s commitment to remove barriers for its drivers to own and operate electric vehicles. We look forward to continuing to work with Uber and key stakeholders to support the transition to electric in a way that both reduces pollution and centers the needs of the historically underserved.”
Richard Bartlett, EVP, Future Mobility and Solutions, BP
“We are pleased to be working with Uber to enable their partner-drivers to start the transition to a fully electric ride. Ride hailing is a growing phenomenon in our cities and we look forward to expanding our collaboration in other locations across Europe and the globe. With bp’s ambition to be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and to help the world get to net zero, we want to play our part in electrifying fleets and helping cities deliver on their own low carbon commitments.”
Catherine Kargas, Vice President, MARCON, Electric Mobility Canada
“In a world bruised and polluted by COVID-19, Uber’s news to fully electrify its fleet by 2040 is literally a breath of fresh air. Given the important role of shared mobility to improve circulation and quality of life in our cities, Uber’s commitment and significant investment to shared electric mobility is an example to be followed by mobility companies around the world. It is with vision, serious financial investments and true private-public-private collaborations that we will achieve true electric MaaS systems in our cities.”
Philippe Crist, Advisor for Innovation & Foresight, International Transport Forum, OECD
“Ride-hailing services and taxis provide clear value to people. As a part of a broad urban mobility ecosystem, they can contribute to more sustainable urban travel — if the environmental impacts over their whole lifecycle are addressed. There are several ways to reduce the environmental burden of these services as work by the International Transport Forum shows: reducing empty vehicle travel, increasing the number of passengers carried per kilometre driven while avoiding a shift to ride-hailing and taxis from public transport and other, more sustainable modes and fostering a rapid transition towards electric vehicles — especially for vehicles that travel a lot every day. Uber’s ambitious commitment to rapidly electrify is a welcome step in delivering more sustainable mobility outcomes.”
Christoph Wolff, Member of Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
“As a company that enables shared mobility, Uber’s commitment to carbon reduction highlights the importance of private sector companies in the global fight against climate change, and the need for innovative partnerships between companies and public agencies to tangibly confront some of our greatest challenges.”
Kristian Corby, Deputy Executive Director, CalETC
“CalETC applauds Uber’s actions to support and encourage drivers’ transition to electric zero-emission vehicles. These actions are crucial steps to accomplish our shared goals of improving air quality and combating climate change. Uber’s actions will accelerate distribution and use of EVs in disadvantaged and low-income communities, providing these communities with the economic and public health benefits of zero-emission mobility options.”
Daniel Malarkey, Senior Fellow, Sightline Institute
“Transportation generates over 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the Pacific Northwest. With a grid that’s mostly carbon-free, rapid electrification of vehicles here would help meet our climate goals. It makes sense to focus our early electrification efforts on vehicles that generate more emissions, including those used many hours per day by ridesharing operators. Uber’s commitment to go all-electric in US cities by 2030 sends an important signal that rapid electrification of transport is feasible and makes business sense for large fleets.”