Lyft is taking its environmental commitment to its logical conclusion. The ridesharing outfit has promised to achieve complete carbon neutrality, not just its rides, and will strive to use 100 percent renewable energy. It's buying those renewables directly when it can, but it'll buy renewable energy credits and carbon offsets when it has no choice but to use less than eco-friendly sources. Credits will come from energy projects that sit on the same regional electricity grids, such as wind farms in Colorado and Maine. Yes, Lyft knows this isn't a true solution at the moment.
Electric cars typically need larger, denser batteries if they're going to meet the range expectations of people used to gas-powered vehicles, but available space and weight limit the size of that battery. Researchers might have a solution: turn the very body of the car into a battery. They've conducted a study showing that carbon fiber shells could serve as battery electrodes. The trick is to optimize the size and orientation of the fibers so there's a good balance between stiffness and the electrochemical traits needed to store energy. While the carbon fiber with battery-friendly characteristics is slightly stronger than steel, the scientists believed companies might need thicker layers to make up for the difference.
So it makes sense that so many people have a tendency to focus intensely on electric cars as the antidote to climate change. Unlike many other technologies that could prove significant -- such as cleaner energy production from fusion, or carbon capture and storage to reduce existing greenhouse gas -- even the nonscientists among us instantly grasp the idea of driving a car powered without oil. Moreover, the intuition is correct in many ways: In the U.S., as in many other countries, the transportation sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector. And over 90 percent of the fuel used in transportation is petroleum based. It therefore seems -- and is -- logical that if we can wean our own cars and trucks off of oil, our climate prospects will be dramatically improved.
As of today, Google has eliminated its entire "carbon legacy." By that, the company means it has purchased high-quality carbon offsets to match all of the emissions ever produced by its data centers and campuses. That includes the emissions generated before Google became carbon neutral in 2007. The company says it's the first in the world to eliminate its carbon legacy. Carbon offsets are credits for renewable energy that are meant to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.
Two decades have passed since diplomats from around the world emerged from a conference hall in Kyoto, Japan, with what was billed as the first deal ever to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases that are relentlessly warming the earth's atmosphere. Climate diplomacy has made a lot of progress since then. All but one of the world's nations -- the United States -- have enlisted in the cause, making concrete commitments to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Leaving aside President Trump's past declarations that climate change is a hoax, there are heartening signs that the strategy may work: Global carbon-dioxide emissions have stopped rising. Coal use in China may have peaked.