This is one way Lyft is definitely better than Uber

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In the ride-sharing utopia promoted by companies like Uber and Lyft, more people travel in fewer cars. Roads are less congested, the air is cleaner, and our wallets stay fuller.

It may not surprise you that the reality is different. Apps have made getting a car ride so convenient and cheap that, in many cities, people are traveling more miles in cars and fewer using public transport, according to a 2017 study. That means more congested roads and dirtier air. All car rides, except those in an electric car powered only by renewable energy, produce emissions.

But there is a way you could negate some of those emissions: choose Lyft over Uber. On April 19, the company announced that going forward, it will buy carbon offsets for all its rides globally. Though Lyft wouldn’t provide a precise number, it says it will be spending many millions of dollars on the offsets, and estimates that its investment will offset more than 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018.

Carbon offsets (or carbon credits) are an important tool to cut emissions that would otherwise be uneconomical or impractical near to the point of impossibility. For instance, if you wanted to go from London to New York, you currently have no option but to produce carbon emissions in the process (unless you want to sail across the Atlantic). In the same vein, if you don’t have the money to buy an electric car, but are interested in cutting your car’s emissions today, you could buy carbon offsets instead.

The money spent on carbon offset is used for renewable energy projects, such as a biomass plant in Kenya or a wind farm in the US, or to regrow forests that would not have been otherwise built. The theory is that your money is helping someone else cut emissions for you. Over the years, a number of international organizations, such as Verified Carbon Standard, have cropped up to ensure companies selling offsets are meeting these criteria. Lyft will be working with the sustainability consulting firm 3Degrees, and says that the projects they’ll invest in will be US-based, and near to Lyft’s biggest markets.

Lyft’s decision is major because, in many markets, ride-sharing is now a bigger business than traditional taxis. Lyft successfully completes nearly 2 million rides each day, and Uber does at least three times as many.

Lyft insists the cost of these offsets won’t lead to price hikes for riders. “Other successful companies, such as Apple and Google, have made commitments to environmental sustainability while building profitable businesses,” a company spokesman said.

Not everyone is convinced that carbon offsets do all that they promise. Sharon Beder of the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, believes they are at best “a short-term solution that only postpones the necessary phasing out of fossil-fuel dependence.” Lyft agrees. The offsets, the company says, are only a step towards its sustainable goals. “The ultimate solution to the issue of carbon emissions in the transport sector is electric cars powered by renewable energy,” the Lyft spokesman said.

Quartz asked Uber if it had plans to buy carbon offsets. The company declined to comment but pointed to its green initiatives. One is Uber Pool, which allows users heading to different destinations to share a ride at least part of the route. Uber says in 2017 alone, initiatives like Uber Pool have avoided 82,000 metric tons of emissions (though this calculation assumes every Pool rider would have taken a single-occupancy car instead). Uber also has programs where it’s looking to increase its hybrid and fully electric cars; in San Francisco you can Uber an electric bike; and the company will soon offer public-transit tickets through its app in select cities. This is not that different from competitors. Lyft has a pool service called Line and is also working on programs to promote the electrification of transport.

To be sure, Lyft is only offsetting emissions from when the driver accepts your request to the moment you get out of the car. Other emissions, such as those from the car roaming around, or Lyft running its own data centers, are not included. Nevertheless, until Uber starts buying carbon offsets (or goes to an all-electric fleet, perhaps), you can be sure that an Uber ride will generate more greenhouse gasses than one with Lyft.

Additional reporting by Alison Griswold.