Science & Health

Elon Musk On Why We Need A Carbon Tax

Billionaire Elon Musk has a few things on the boil at the moment. He’s revolutionising how we all get around with Tesla electric supercars, SpaceX reusable rockets and an experimental Hyperloop, while also working on a plan to launch a Mars colony running in the background. Needless to say, he’s a real-life billionaire/genius/playboy/philanthropist. At a recent press conference, he was asked if governments should put a price on carbon, and his answer is incredibly sensible.

When asked by a journalist in January about his thoughts on a carbon tax, Musk had this to say:

I do think it’s extremely important we establish a carbon tax. This is a carbon tax that would apply to all carbon-producing entities. From electricity-generation from hydrocarbons through to production of gasoline and consumption of gasoline. I think that will actually increase the price of electricity — that is to say the electricity coming from hydrocarbons — and it will increase the price of gasoline, but I think this is important because right now we’re consuming this extremely valuable common good which is the carbon capacity of the oceans and atmosphere. We’re not paying anything for that consumption.

It’s like having a garbage pile in your street and nobody’s paying for it. The garbage gets higher and higher, and eventually terrible things happen, so it’s just very important to put a price [on carbon emissions]. If somebody’s dumping chemicals in the atmosphere you need to pay for it.

At last year’s UN Climate Leadership Summit, 74 countries (PDF) around the world — including China, South Africa and the United Kingdom — supported putting a price on carbon.

During the tenure of the previous Labor government, Australia was on the list of countries with a carbon price in place, however the legislation was repealed following the Coalition’s rise to power.

In a speech to the National Press Club yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledged that he wouldn’t resurrect the carbon tax, adding that it’s still a policy of his Labor counterpart, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten should Labor win the next Federal election.

Is Australia on the wrong side of history when it comes to pricing carbon? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

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