Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a new interview revealed that he approached the Joe Biden administration about implementing a carbon tax in the US, but he was told the idea was essentially “too politically difficult.”
Musk described the conversation with the Biden administration during a new podcast with Joe Rogan, an American comedian and podcast host, recently.
“I talked to the Biden administration, and they were like ‘Well, this seems too politically difficult.’ And I was like, ‘Well, this is obviously a thing that should happen.’ And by the way, SpaceX would be paying a carbon tax too. So I’m like, you know, I’m like, I think we should pay it too. It’s not like we shouldn’t have carbon generating things. It’s just that there’s got to be a price on this stuff,” Musk said.
Musk suggested that consumers should pay the tax. He also suggested the tax be “non-regressive,” meaning the tax could be levied based on income level. If a “low income” consumer has to use a lot of gas (and therefore produce a lot of carbon emissions), they could get a tax rebate.
“If we just put a price on carbon emissions, the market will react in a sensible way. But because we don’t have a price on it, it is behaving badly,” Musk noted.
Musk calls carbon concentrations in the atmosphere and environment an “unpriced externality.”
“The fundamental good of Tesla is to what degree it accelerates the advance of sustainable energy. It’s inevitable. It’s tautological,” Musk explained.
“It’s either we have sustainable energy or civilization collapses. And so if civilization doesn’t collapse we will have sustainable energy, it’s just a question of how soon does that happen. Sooner is better.”
In 2017, it was reported that Musk was pushing for a carbon tax with the then new Trump administration.