Paris, France – Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk urgently called for a revenue neutral carbon tax to curtail CO2 emissions while speaking at Sobonne University located near the global climate change conference taking place in Paris this week.
Musk explained how under the current system, there is an incentive to burn fossil fuels. Citing IMF figures, Musk said that the fossil fuel industry receives a $5.3 trillion subsidy each year.
Earlier this year, Musk was candid about how his company, Telsa, benefited from those subsidies, citing that the company has paid for them back while promoting the idea of a carbon neutral CO2 tax on Twitter:
According to the EPA, global carbon emissions from fossil fuels have significantly increased since 1900. Since 1970, CO2 emissions have increased by about 90%, with emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributing about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emission increase from 1970 to 2011. Agriculture, deforestation, and other land use changes have been the second-largest contributors.
Musk described the dramatic increase in CO2 emissions since the industrial age with this graph:
“The fundamental problem is the rules today incent people to create carbon. This is madness.” ~ Elon Musk
“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.
“It really matters whether we do this transition sooner or later, said Musk.”
Musk suggested that a tax on carbon can be “revenue neutral” – that is the revenues gained by taxing carbon emissions could be used to offset other taxes, and by doing so, only those who are using higher levels of carbon would be paying higher in taxes.
In response to Musk’s the revenue neutral CO2 tax proposal, Former Mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg tweeted, “That’s an idea mayors and I could support”
Musk urged students attending the event to “talk to your politicians.”