Big corporate climate pledges often can't work without policy changes
Lyft's newly announced plan to go 100% electric by 2030 blends ambition on climate with an admission that making good relies on variables it can perhaps influence but can't control.
Why it matters: The ride-hailing giant is admirably open about something that can get lost in the avalanche of big pledges over the last two years. They need policy changes to make it work.
- Lyft outlined a pathway that starts with more near-term electric vehicle deployment through its driver rental program and more slowly spurring electrification of driver-owned cars used for the vast majority of Lyft rides.
- But it cites the need for "unprecedented leadership from policymakers and regulators to align market rules and incentives for businesses and consumers alike."
- This sort of acknowledgment is hardly unique in the burgeoning world of aggressive corporate climate pledges.
The big picture: Look closely at various pledges and you'll see that a number — though not all — rely on a mix of corporate decision-making, technology advancements and policy changes to help meet the goals.
- For instance, consider Duke Energy, one of the largest utilities in the nation and among a growing number of power giants pledging net-zero emissions or 100% carbon-free electricity by midcentury.
- Its plan to be net-zero emissions by 2050 is shot-through with policy discussion, such as "permitting reforms" that will enable deployment of new technologies.
One level deeper: All the giant European oil companies are now setting targets for steeply cutting "Scope 3" emissions — that is, emissions from the use of their products in the economy, not just the comparatively small emissions from their own operations.
- This either explicitly or tacitly acknowledges the role of policy in addition to their own business practices (and indeed the companies are also vowing to boost their advocacy).
- Take the French multinational giant Total, which points out that it's aiming for net-zero overall emissions by 2050 "together with society" and that it will develop "active advocacy" around carbon pricing and more.
The bottom line: It's another lens onto something we've written about before that's getting a lot of attention as President Trump scales back federal efforts.
- The burst of state, local and business emissions efforts can do a lot — but they're not a substitute for national policy.