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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 25, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Oil's turbulent long-term future

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The oil sector is facing risks from all sides.

Why it matters: Risk in the industry is nothing new. But these are especially turbulent and uncertain times. The industry's market clout has waned, the future of demand is kind of a mystery, and future U.S. policy is too, just to name three.

Sep 25, 2020 - Economy & Business

Eyeing the end of gas-powered cars

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Gasoline-powered cars may be going the way of the woolly mammoth, even if it will take decades to replace them and seems hard to fathom today.

The big picture: Internal combustion engines (ICEs) have powered automobiles for more than 100 years. But the shift to electric vehicles, slow to materialize at first, is now accelerating due to tightening government policies, falling costs and a societal reckoning about climate change.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Updated Sep 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

China's split personality on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new insta-analysis of China's vow to achieve "carbon neutrality" before 2060 helps to underscore why Tuesday's announcement sent shockwaves through the climate and energy world.

Why it matters: Per the Climate Action Tracker, a research group, following through would lower projected global warming 0.2 to 0.3°C. That's a lot!