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Elon Musk wants governments to charge for carbon

Space X and Tesla founder Elon Musk has called on students and citizens to lobby their government to introduce a ‘carbon price’ to help hurry along commercial industries in making their businesses cleaner and to encourage the development of new renewable energy sources. Removing subsidies for traditional energy would cut the time-frame for a carbon neutral world in half, he said.

This speech was made during a chart with students in the Sorbonne University, in Paris, which sits alongside the location of the current Paris climate summit. The most important thing he said, was to make greener energy production an international issue, not one mired in political debate.

“To make it neither a left nor right issue we should make it a revenue-neutral carbon tax – increasing carbon tax and reducing tax in other areas like consumption taxes or VAT and in order to give companies time to react it should be a phased-in approach,” he said (via The Guardian).


Source: Wikimedia

A big part of it would be encouraging developing nations to skip over the fossil fuel generation. Instead he wants to see governments provide solar panels, batteries and wind farms for villages. That could even end up saving money in the long run, as it wouldn’t’ require the creation of massive networks of power lines and other infrastructure.

The money to develop such solutions is there too he says, as cutting fossil fuel subsidies to all the major firms around the world would save upwards of $5.3 trillion a year, according to the IMF.

Of course this sort of radical thinking isn’t likely to sit well with the massive energy industry. Musk claims that even if governments did push for this measure, it would encounter resistance like that seen from the tobacco companies, as smoking became less sociably accepted.

That may even involve personal attacks against Musk himself. One student suggested one potential avenue of attack by asking how a carbon tax might help Musk’s own solar and electric car industries. He countered that point by saying that if money making was what his focus was, there are much more lucrative industries than outliers like green energy firms and space travel.

That said, his companies have benefited from subsidies too. Over the years SolarCity, Tesla Motors and Space X have received almost $5 billion in government support. If you believe in cutting carbon emissions though, you’re likely to see that as a much more worthwhile investment than traditional fossil fuel subsidies.

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KitGuru Says: Considering the British government recently cut offshore windfarm subsidies and offered even more to North Sea oil, don’t expect this to be an idea that Cameron and co. jump on.

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