Via Financial Times

Los Angeles is considering forcing rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft to use electric vehicles in what would be a first for any city as LA seeks to cut emissions and get more electric vehicles on the streets. 

Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, told the Financial Times that the electric-vehicle requirement was one step being contemplated to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050. 

“We have the power to regulate car share,” he said in a phone interview. “We can mandate, and are looking closely at mandating, that any of those vehicles in the future be electric.”

Mr Garcetti, mayor since 2013, has made environmental issues a central part of his platform. Earlier this month, he became head of C40, a network of the world’s biggest cities that are trying to fight climate change. 

Calling the next 10 years “the climate decade”, he said: “It has to be the decade of action. It is the decade that makes us or breaks us.”

As part of Los Angeles’ “Green New Deal”, published in April, the city aims to draw 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2036, and recycle 100 per cent of its wastewater by 2035. 

The plan also includes purchasing more electric buses, and electric vehicles for the city’s municipal fleet, including America’s first electric fire engine. 

Los Angeles has not yet begun formal public consultation about whether to require rideshare services to use electric vehicles, but Mr Garcetti said the city was considering the step. 

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The Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee has been seeking greater powers to monitor and track rideshare services, including through a possible driver registration program. 

Any policy to require electric vehicles would radically alter the economics of the rideshare business, in which the drivers own or rent their own vehicles, because electric vehicles are significantly more expensive than their petrol-burning counterparts. 

At present, rideshare services in California are regulated by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, and face additional rules in certain cities. Uber declined to comment.

Mr Garcetti said that, as the US prepares to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord, it is up to cities and states to take action against climate change. 

“Local actors, no matter who is in power, are the most critical elements of whether or not we win the fight against climate change,” he said. “It is local governments and regional governments that regulate or directly control building codes, transportation networks, and electricity generation, which together are 80 per cent of our emissions.” 

Mr Garcetti who took over the chair of the C40 group from Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, is supporting a “Global Green New Deal” intended to help mayors cut emissions in their cities. He also founded the “Climate Mayors” group in the US, which includes 438 mayors dedicated to addressing climate change. 

“Cities have never been more powerful in the modern era,” Mr Garcetti said. “We make laws, we make business deals, we create jobs, we have to clean air and water, we run ports and airports, we attract investment and we often finance infrastructure.”

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He added: “Cities will either succeed in saving this planet, or cities will fail, and I intend that it be the former.”