Uber’s sustainability effort is now getting its own product activity

Uber has split its annual product event into two separate gatherings to further emphasize its efforts to become carbon neutral.

The first event, titled Go/Get, will be held on May 17 in New York City and will focus on “family and travel,” the company said. The second will be called Go/Get Zero and will be held in London on June 8. The event will highlight the different ways Uber plans to tackle climate change.

The choice to hold the sustainability event in London was not accidental. The city is a microcosm of the company’s efforts to green its platform, with 15 percent of the company’s vehicle kilometers traveled using electric vehicles. Uber drivers in London are also the first to have access to a fleet of EVs through the company’s expanded partnership with car rental company Hertz.

The event will highlight the different ways Uber plans to tackle climate change

The problem is indeed huge, and Uber’s goals are no guarantee of success. A recent study from Carnegie Mellon found that trips in Uber and Lyft vehicles generate about 20 percent more greenhouse gases than regular private cars. The reason is “deadheading,” where ridehail drivers go around without passengers in the car between ride requests.

The disproportionate amount of pollution generated by Uber and Lyft vehicles has prompted some governments to mandate that ridehail companies become carbon neutral. The state of California and New York City both state that companies must become zero emission by 2030.

But getting the millions of people who drive for Uber and Lyft to switch to electric vehicles is no easy feat. Ridehail drivers are classified as independent contractors, and many use their personal cars to drive for not just one but many companies in the gig economy. Also, EVs tend to be more expensive than gas vehicles even though fuel and maintenance costs are lower. That high upfront cost can make it a challenge for many drivers, who typically operate with tighter margins, to make the switch.

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