Elon Musk: Only a Carbon Tax Will Accelerate the World’s Exit from Fossil Fuels
As world leaders and policymakers continue climate negotiations in Paris, serial entrepreneur Elon Musk appealed to a younger, seemingly less powerful group to help prevent global warming.
His message: only a carbon tax—not innovation, conservation, or renewable energy—will accelerate the transition from carbon-producing fossil fuels to sustainable energy.
“I think you have tremendous power—you have the power to make change,” Musk told students during a conference at the Sorbonne in Paris, just a 30-minute drive from the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference, where negotiations are underway to pass an international treaty that would cut emissions enough to prevent the world’s temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius.
Musk, who has pushed for a carbon tax before, said the tax should be revenue neutral and phased in over a period of years. A revenue neutral tax means governments would still receive the same amount of money despite a change in the tax code. Under Musk’s scenario, taxes would be weighted heavily on carbon, and reduced in other areas. This approach already occurs, Musk said, citing how taxes are higher on cigarettes and alcohol than fruits and vegetables.
Musk encouraged students to press politicians to take action on climate change because “governments respond to popular pressure.”