While world leaders, policy makers, corporate CEOs and pretty much everyone that matters are gathered here in Paris to hammer out a deal that might see the planet aligned around a common framework, elsewhere in Paris a tycoon is addressing a different crowd. Elon Musk - involved with cutting-edge tech companies like Tesla, SpaceX and Solar city - told youngsters gathered at an event at the University of Sorbonne, Paris that carbon pricing would accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy. He estimates this is the single most impactful action policy makers can make, estimating it would halve the time it would take to transition. With this in mind, he urged the young crowd listening to talk to their representatives about this.
“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, we could probably cut it in half and that would have a huge impact on the … welfare of the world … it really matters where we do this transition sooner or later," Musk said.
The alternative, Musk continued, implies going forward with what can only be described as "the dumbest science experiment in history”.
Specifically, Musk is referring to a revenue neutral tax, which implies gov. treasuries would still receive as much money as before. This net zero approach means heavily taxing carbon, but lowering taxes in other areas. This approach proved to be successful when taxing tobacco and alcohol. Musk says.
The tech entrepreneur and inventor underlined how simple to take this decision is, reasoning that everyone can agree that eventually fossil fuels will run out - sustainable energy is thus a mandatory prerequisite if we're to preserve both our lifestyles and the planet's climate. Vile and hidden fossil fuel subsidies, worth $5.3 trillion a year according to the IMF, seriously hinders this transition.
“The fundamental problem is the rules today incent people to create carbon; this is madness,” Musk said. “So what can you do? Whenever you have the opportunity, talk to your politicians, ask them to enact a carbon tax.”