As the leaders of 196 countries negotiate a carbon emissions goal for the planet to prevent an environmental apocalypse, the real work will fall to the companies that will need to deliver change to consumers. And no single person is doing as much to help change our energy consumption as one Elon Musk.
In a talk Musk gave in Paris yesterday, he explained how he believed the world might accelerate its transition out of the fossil fuel era, namely with the help of a carbon tax to swat irresponsible businesses — his competitors, ahem — out of the market or get them to change their ways. He also has a pretty great explainer on how extra carbon is bad for the planet's natural equilibrium (he actually calls it the "turd in the punchbowl").
Matthew deBord offers analysis at Business Insider which proposes that a fossil-free future was actually Musk's plan all along, and the reason he organised his trifecta of companies (plus SolarCity which is owned by his family). If you think about it, this makes sense: Tesla's electric cars served as a kind of a clean power Trojan horse that got people thinking about where their energy was coming from, priming this audience for Powerwall batteries and SolarCity panels which will change the way home energy is collected and stored. And the SpaceX stuff, well, that's just a backup in case we do end up royally screwing the planet.
It doesn't appear as though Musk is part of the Gates-Zuck-Bezos Climate Avengers Dream Team who are pledging to pump billions into clean energy tech, but let's face it, Musk operates as his own mini-empire. If he can deliver on his promise to ship $US800 million worth of batteries, that is a pretty significant chunk of energy that's being shifted off the grid (hopefully for good). Those guys (they're almost all guys) might be investing in important research but Musk already has solutions at market. I'm with Musk, all the way.