We could see a transition to clean energy in 15 to 20 years, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, if countries implement a widespread carbon tax. Speaking to students at the Sorbonne in Paris, Musk said the absence of a carbon tax is effectively a “hidden carbon subsidy of $5.3 trillion per year.” He called on students at the Sorbonne to campaign and lobby their governments to implement the tax.


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“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 [to clean energy] that has a 15- to 20-year timeframe as opposed to a 40- or 50-year timeframe,” he said. The other option, according to Musk is “more displacement and destruction than all the wars in history combined… the dumbest science experiment in history.”

Elon Musk, Tesla, global warming, climate change, carbon tax, Paris 2015, Paris climate talks, Elon Musk Sorbonne, carbon subsidy

The tax, Musk said, should be “revenue-neutral,” meaning that while the carbon tax is increased, other taxes, such as consumer and labor taxes, would be decreased, giving companies time to react. He stressed that a carbon tax needs to be implemented as soon as possible and that the timeframe that “would have a huge impact on the… welfare of the world.”

Related: Elon Musk defends $4.9 billion in government subsidies

Musk has long believed that clean energy would displace carbon-based energy naturally as we start to run out of fossil fuels to burn. However, fracking has delayed that inevitability.

“Fracking has elevated my concern about the carbon problem dramatically,” Musk said. “I always thought the scarcity of oil would drive up the price… unfortunately some smart inventors – I wish they could have invented something else… The net result? The accessible oil and gas reserves are dramatically higher, maybe by a factor of 10, and that is crazy for the climate,” he said.

Musk will speak at the Paris climate talks later this week.

Via The Guardian

Images via Université Sorbonne