The Carbon Footprint of Ride-Hailing: GHG Inventory Methodology
Instructor of Management at the Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon
Assistant Professor at the School of Planning, Public Policy, and Management, University of Oregon
Senior Associate at Good Company
Ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber have emerged as a transportation option in many cities around the U.S. and globally. At the same time, cities and metropolitan regions have transportation policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The primary thrust of this research project was to investigate how these two trends intersect and shape one another.
First, the research team investigated the carbon footprint of Lyft and Uber. This research informs current and future policy and regulatory decisions at the local, metropolitan, and state level. It clarifies questions such as: Does the increased prevalence of ride-hailing cannibalize transit ridership and increase congestion, thereby working against climate goals? What is the impact on carbon emissions of shared ride-hailing services, such as Lyft Line and Uber Pool? And, how can effective carbon footprinting clarify the policy options that communities face?
Second, the research team engaged communities and asked the question, how can communities quantify the impact of ride-hailing services and incorporate these impacts into their local climate action policy and planning. The researchers developed a simple tool for straightforward use by practitioners working in and for local governments. They produced a quantitative template for communities to use in turning transportation and ride-hailing data into greenhouse gas emissions estimates, in the context of their greenhouse gas inventories. These calculations estimate both direct effects (i.e. emissions from transportation by ride-hailing use) as well as secondary or indirect effects (i.e., increases or decreases in total trips, as well as changes in modality as a result of ride-hailing).
Third, the research team explored the connection between climate action and the sharing economy more broadly. They developed a methodology for quantitatively analyzing the environmental impact of ride-hailing with the hope that this methodology could be adopted or applied to other sharing economy platforms.