Uber, and its ride-hailing competitors, have significantly contributed to an increase in pollution levels in London. That’s according to a new report…
A Spike In Emissions
According to a report published by the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E), there’s a correlation between emission rises and licensed private hire vehicles (PHVs). This is the case in London, where ride-hailing services like Uber have proliferated. Since its own arrival in the capital, taxi and PHV trips have increased by 25%. This strongly correlates with a 23% increase in CO2 emissions.
Yoann Le Petit, speakling for T&E, has called on Uber to transform its fleet into a zero-emissions operation. He said, “Uber’s CEO tells us they ‘do the right thing, period.’ But the reality is that Uber is part of the traffic and pollution problem, adding car trips in our cities and adding to the climate and pollution crisis”. He added, “If it wants to become part of the solution Uber needs to stop using petrol and diesel cars and rapidly shift to 100% electric rides. That’s the right thing to do, full stop”. Private car numbers have actually doubled in the city between 2012 and 2017, reaching 89,000. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of drivers with the ride-hailing app nearly doubled; rising from 25,000 to 45,000. This means it accounts for nearly half of all PHVs in London.
A Global Problem
London is by no means unique when it comes to the link between PHVs and emissions. A similar phenomenon has been recorded in Paris, where 90% of the vehicles are diesels. If emissions from the vehicles in both cities were combined it’d represent half a megatonne of CO2. That’s the equivalent of 250,000 privately owned cars on the road. As it stands, London is Uber’s largest European market; the city boasts 3.6 million users alone. The company has outlined a plan to tackle emissions which it calls, rather laconically, ‘Clean Air Plan.’ This will see, in theory, all of its vehicles become fully electric by 2025.
Greg Archer, UK director of Transport & Environment, wants Uber to transform its fleet throughout the entire country and not just in London; claiming that it’s financially viable for their operation. He said, “forced by London’s clean air rules, Uber has already committed to 100% clean rides in London by 2025″. He added, “this proves that it is a financially viable option for the company. If it wasn’t, they would have pulled out of the market already. So our question to Uber is: why not Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds? Are those second-class citizens? Are their lungs any different?” Despite T&E’s report, other research has suggested that SUVs are at the heart of the emissions crisis. For example, if SUV drivers were a nation they’d rank seventh for emissions.
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