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Lyft to Power 1 Billion Automated Electric Car Rides Per Year by 2025
By Gina Coplon-Newfield
If you think the only way to drive electric is to buy electric, then think again. From ride sharing to car sharing, and short-term rentals to typical rental cars, the auto industry is making it easier for those without their own set of wheels to drive—or ride—electric.
Following Trump's announcement of his intention to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, Lyft announced that to drive climate action and electric vehicle use forward, its shared platform will provide at least 1 billion rides per year using electric autonomous vehicles by 2025. All of the autonomous vehicles on Lyft's platform are going to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy beginning with its nuTonomy vehicles in Boston that will be coming out later this year. This initiative is going to make huge steps toward cleaning up the U.S. transportation sector. It is estimated to provide at least 1 billion rides per year and will reduce CO2 emissions by at least 5 million tons per year by the year 2025.
This isn't Lyft's first announcement of its plans to switch to clean, green, electric autonomous vehicles. In December, Lyft and General Motors (GM) announced that in 2018 they will deploy the largest test fleet of autonomous electric vehicles using a specially equipped version of the Chevy Bolt. Not only is GM providing Lyft with short-term rental vehicles, but they are working on a joint-development of an autonomous vehicle ride-sharing service.
GM currently has no plans to sell its autonomous Bolt, the Bolt AV, to customers. Michael Abelson from GM explains, "If you assume the cost…will be six figures, there aren't very many retail customers that are willing to go out and spend that kind of money… But even at that sort of cost, with a ride-sharing platform, you can build a business." GM also announced that its own car-sharing service, Maven, will add 100 Bolt EVs to its Los Angeles fleet with plans to expand the Bolt into both the San Francisco and San Diego areas. GM's competitors, such as Ford, are also working on providing autonomous ride-share vehicles.
In 2015, there were more than 35,000 people who died in motor vehicle accidents. Many people view autonomous vehicles as a solution to human errors, like distracted driving from eating, talking on the phone or even road rage. Autonomous cars give people the freedom to text, call or apply makeup while riding, all without the risks of distracted driving. They even provide greater mobility options for people with disabilities who are unable to drive. Because all of the cars in these fleets could come with a plug, self-driving cars could accelerate us toward clean transportation. This is because electric vehicles, no matter the energy source, emit significantly less carbon dioxide pollution than from conventional vehicles. And as we transition to clean energy sources like wind and solar, electric vehicles only get cleaner. However, we need to make sure that autonomous vehicles are indeed electric and that AV policies are designed to reduce, rather than increase, vehicle miles traveled.
While Lyft will have the largest autonomous fully electric test fleet, there are several other local electric ride-sharing initiatives. In April, Uber launched its first electric initiative in Portland with the goal of making 10 percent of its fleet electric by 2019. WaiveCar, an all-electric vehicle ride-sharing platform, has partnered with Hyundai to offer several free rides in its new all-electric model, the Hyundai IONIQ. With these tests and initiatives in action, we may be seeing electric vehicles dominate ride-share programs in the near future.
Car-sharing companies like ZipCar and Car2Go are also looking to plug-in to clean transportation. These short-term rentals now offer a variety of electric and hybrid vehicles. With hybrids in its fleet as early as the year 2000, ZipCar had some of the earliest ones on the market and has been increasing its number of plug-in hybrid options over the years. Meanwhile, other car-share companies are stepping up and are now offering electric vehicle car-sharing. City Car Share powered by Carma in the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the greenest car-sharing fleets. Not only is fifty percent of its fleet hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric, but they are also adding 16 more electric vehicles that are designed by artist, Zio Zielger. BMW is also bringing electric cars to Portland, Seattle and Brooklyn, with ReachNow, its car-sharing program, which offers its electric BMW i3 as an option.
Hertz on Demand has been gradually adding electric vehicles as an option for its customers at several of its locations, from Connecticut to San Antonio. However, if you're like me, you've found it difficult to rent a hybrid, let alone an electric, vehicle from a traditional rental car company in the U.S. Modeled after AutoLib in Paris, BlueIndy brought this type of model to Indianapolis. With more than 2,000 members, BlueIndy users have taken more than 21,000 trips-- mainly to and from the airport. Los Angeles recently launched an EV car-sharing program for low-income communities, bringing access to clean transportation to communities who generally go without.
Ride-sharing and car-sharing structures may soon dominate the road. Their cooperation is essential to make moves toward cleaner transportation nationwide. These platforms, if designed smartly in concert with public policy, can reduce individual car ownership and take more cars off the road. But these systems don't necessarily reduce congestion, incentivize people to use public transit or cut down on the overall number of miles driven, nor do they reduce the amount of pollution being produced by conventional vehicles stuck behind ride-share vehicles in traffic. Lots of work is needed to get all of this right. However, Lyft's commitment to provide around 1 billion of its rides using electric vehicles signifies a big step in the industry in the right direction.
Alexandra Dobell, an intern at the Sierra Club, contributed to this article. Gina Coplon-Newfield is the director of the Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative. This piece originally appeared on Vice Impact.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.