In a speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris on Wednesday, Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX proposed a measured policy solution to stave off the effects of climate change, which he said has the capability of spurring “more displacement and destruction than all the wars in history combined,” if allowed to continue at present levels.
Musk advocated for a tax on carbon emissions that could be rolled out over five years, meant to discourage the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gasses from wreaking destruction on the planet.
The tax proposed by Musk would be revenue neutral, and would hinge on “an increase in tax on carbon, but then reducing taxes in other places,” like sales or value added tax, according to Musk.
“Only those using high-levels of carbon, would play an increased tax,” said Musk, who repeatedly said that present day energy creation exists in part because of a “hidden carbon subsidy of $5.3 trillion per year,” afforded to the world’s largest polluters.
In effect, Musk wants to change the rule. “The rules today incent people to create carbon. This is madness. Whatever you incent will happen.”
Musk, who also moonlights as chairman of Solar City, spoke in especially stark terms about the inevitability of draining all carbon-based resources on planet Earth, as world leaders continue to meet at the Paris Climate Conference, taking place nearby in a Parisian suburb.
Framing the carbon question as an ultimatum, Musk said, “whatever action we take will drive the carbon number to extreme or moderate levels,” adding that “if we delay the change, the best-case is simply delaying that transition to sustainable energy.”