Thursday 21 November 2019 3:40 pm

Uber is behind a sharp rise in London's air pollution

Uber and other ride-hailing apps have contributed to a sharp rise in CO2 emissions and air pollution in the taxi and ride services sector, according to a new report

The report – written by the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) – found there was a 23 per cent increase in emissions from “taxi-like services” between 2012 and 2017.

Read more: Uber launches new safety measures in bid for long-term London licence

The rising emissions have run parallel to private hire vehicle licences in London almost doubling to 89,000 in the same period.

T&E also found that the number of private car trips and taxi licences stayed stable over the five years, leading the report to conclude that the rise of Uber and similar apps has “strongly correlated” with “more emissions from the sector”.

“In addition to the CO2 being emitted as a result of their operations, the impact of conventional vehicles in taxi and private hire vehicle fleets is putting a heavy burden on city air quality,” T&E said.

This is despite Uber and Kapten – the two most popular London ride-hailing apps – consistently claiming otherwise.

“More people in fewer, more efficient cars can mean less environmental impact per person,” Uber says on its website.

Meanwhile, Kapten chief executive Sebastien Oebel has also made similar statements in the past.

However, the report found that instead of keeping private cars off the roads, ride-hailing apps in fact act as a deterrent against catching public transport.

Uber comes under particular scrutiny in the T&E report as its app is opened eight-times more by Londoners than competitors apps.

“If Uber continues its current business practice of adding more combustion engine cars and fossil powered kilometres in our cities, it is an obstacle to the transition to green and sustainable cities in Europe,” T&E said.

An Uber spokeswoman defended the company’s environmental impact, noting that it introduced a clean air plan in January.

She added that Uber was aiming at running an all-electric fleet by 2025 in London.

“We are committed to reducing private car ownership by providing more alternatives,” the spokeswoman said.

Read more: Ride-hailing app Kapten unveils London-first electric fleet

“In London, we recently introduced electric JUMP bikes, integrated Public Transport information into the app and our Clean Air Plan is helping drivers move into electric vehicles.”

Kapten is also trying to move in this direction, launching an all-electric fleet of 1,100 cars this week.

Responding to the report, Kapten UK general manager Marius Zabrocki said: “Switching entirely to electric class is our objective and we started our way towards that direction by launching the electric class.

“We will go 100 per cent electric as early as possible.”