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Indonesian ride-hailing firm Gojek launches carbon offsetting service

The firm is the first in the ride-hailing industry to enable customers to offset their travel emissions.

Gojek has launched a feature that enables customers to offset the carbon they generate on their travels by planting trees.

The Indonesian firm is the first in the ride-hailing industry to offer a business-to-consumer carbon offsetting service, which was launched in partnership with tech startup Jejak.in.

To use the service, customers calculate their carbon footprint using their average daily use of transport, and offset their emissions by making a payment through the app. 

The payment goes towards tree-planting schemes in Jakarta, Central Java and East Kalimantan run by Indonesian conservation group LindungiHutan.

A 1-kilometre journey on a motorbike in Jakarta requires about 0.05 trees to offset the carbon, at a cost of IDR3,500 (US$0.20). A 1km journey in a car in Jakarta requires 0.15 trees to offset, at a cost of IDR10,500 (US$0.70). The costs are lower for trees planted outside of Jakarta.

Users can check on the progress of the tree-planting schemes through a monitoring dashboard, where they can view reports on the growth of their trees.

Gojek has about 190 million users in Southeast Asia, but the offsetting service will only be available in Indonesia to begin with, the company told Eco-Business.

To get the initiative going, the company said it would double the number of trees planted by users for the first six months from launch, before the platform is expanded to other locations. Gojek has a presence in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines. 

Though Gojek’s carbon offsetting service puts it at the front of the pack—ahead of main Southeast Asian rival Grab—the firm follows other ride-hailing players in Europe that have tried to rein in their carbon footprint.

European ride-hailer Bolt went carbon neutral last year, using renewable energy and emissions reductions projects to cut carbon, at no cost to its customers.

Uber charged customers in London 15 pence (US$0.20) extra per mile to help Uber drivers upgrade to electric vehicles in early 2019.

Gett, a cab hailer operating in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Russia, offset all of its emissions in 2019, and charged customers an extra 40 cents for a “carbon positive” journey, with the funds going towards projects to improve air quality around schools.

A study released in February found that ride-hailing trips in the US result in an estimated 69 per cent more climate pollution on average than the trips they displace. No studies have been done on the impact of ride-hailing services on roads in Indonesia, which are among the most congested in the world.

News of the offsetting service emerges three months after Gojek announced it would be cutting 9 per cent of its workforce, mostly in Indonesia, and stopping some services in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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