Quoted: Elon Musk pushes for a carbon tax

“The fundamental problem is the rules today incent people to create carbon. This is madness.”

Elon Musk, in a talk Wednesday at the Sorbonne University in Paris, not too far from the global climate change conference going on in that city this week. He urged students to “talk to your politicians” at every opportunity and push for a carbon tax.

Musk said the fossil-fuel industry effectively is given a subsidy of $5.3 trillion a year, citing an International Monetary Fund figure. (Musk’s companies have also received government subsidies but he has stressed that those have been paid back.)

In renewing his call for a carbon tax, Musk says it’s imperative to act as quickly as possible.

“If countries agree to a carbon tax and it’s real and it’s not super watered-down and weak, we could see a transition that has a 15- to 20-year time frame as opposed to a 40- or 50-year time frame,” he said. “We could probably cut it in half and that would have a huge impact on the … welfare of the world… It really matters whether we do this transition sooner or later.”

Musk is pushing phasing in a revenue-neutral tax, suggesting lowering taxes on other things.

He also addressed a question about his personal motives for advocating for a carbon tax — after all, he is CEO of Tesla Motors and chairman of SolarCity.

“If what I really cared about was my net worth I would never have invested in a car company,” Musk said, according to the Guardian. “It has to be one of the dumbest way to invest money, and solar is not far behind it… because we have these crazy rules in place.”


Photo: Elon Musk in 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News archives)


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  • Dave

    The only reason Musk is pushing for carbon taxes is because he wants to push his electric vehicles into mainstream America. If you visit outside of the Bay Area and parts of the Southland in California you will struggle to find a Tesla. They are not practical vehicles with a driving range less than 300 miles. Even in most wealthy cities in the U.S. it’s hard to find a Tesla. The truth is the vehicles are way overpriced and the company is still not profitable. Musk is looking for any means to boost sales and curb sales of conventional combustible engines.

  • Gary Whittaker

    Tesla loses money. The only money they make is from selling their carbon credits. Hey has sucked off the taxpayer’s with both his venture’s. Can wait for this fraud to be destroyed by capitalism.