Has Uber contributed to London’s pollution problem?

Uber London emissions

Uber and other taxi-hailing services have contributed to a spike in CO2 emissions in cities like London, a new report by the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) claims.

The report quotes figures showing emissions rises that correlate with the increase in licensed private hire vehicles in London between 2012 and 2017. Private driver numbers doubled to 89,000 in this period.

Uber’s London driver count doubled from 25,000 in 2016 to 45,000 in 2018. It accounts for around half of all private hire vehicles (PHVs) in the capital.

Uber London emissions

In spite of the obstacles the company has faced recently, it alone has contributed to a 25 percent increase in PHV trips in the capital since launch. By comparison, in that same period, CO2 emissions are up 23 percent for the taxi and PHV industry. The findings also line up with similar results in major American cities.

Analysis of emissions and licence registration figures suggest that Uber’s taxi services could account for half a megatonne of CO2 – equivalent to an extra 250,000 private cars.

Also worrying is that French government data from 2017 shows 90 percent of registered PHVs were diesel. It’s the view of many organisations that Uber and its competitors should be encouraging the uptake of cleaner low- and zero-emission vehicles.

Uber London emissions

“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,” said Yoann Le Petit, new mobility expert at T&E.

“If it wants to become part of the solution, Uber needs to stop using petrol and diesel cars and rapidly shift to 100 percent electric rides. That’s the right thing to do, full stop.”

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