This article looks into Elon Musk’s perspective on climate change. Elon Musk has been in the news a lot recently. This is partly because of the Thai cave controversy and partly because of his trialling out of an idea to take Tesla private via his Twitter feed.

But next week is Climate Week, so I thought it would be topical to look into Elon Musk’s perspective on this important issue.


He is a rarity in being a CEO who is fully aware of the need for breakthrough exponential technologies to solve the pressing social and environmental challenges. As opposed to the more incremental thinking that abounds in most boardrooms. His perspective on climate change is therefore of a great deal of value.

The inspiration for this article is drawn from the excellently titled video, which you can find via the link below.

Elon Musk’s Unbelievably Simple 12-minute Killer Break Down on Climate Change

 First of all, Elon Musk displays a very good knowledge of the carbon cycle and how it is being knocked into disequilibrium by the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

carbon 2

Towards the beginning he has a very sharp breakdown of the problem, which you can find below.

“It’s really quite simple. We’re taking billions of tonnes of carbon that’s been buried for hundreds of millions of years and is not part of the carbon cycle, taking it from deep underground and adding it to the carbon cycle. The result is a steady increase in the carbon in the atmosphere and in the ocean.”

I find the graph below which shows that carbon has gone into an almost vertical climb since the industrial revolution very instructive for laying out the nature of the problem.


This was followed by my favourite section of the video which centred around the inevitability of the transition to renewable forms of energy. The question is, will this be drawn closer because of the constraints that climate change imposes?

carbon 4

I thought it was interesting that when Elon was talking about technologies to power the sustainable energy era he mentioned nuclear alongside hydro, solar, wind and geothermal forms of energy. Which aligns with my own perspective, which is that in areas not on geological fault lines, nuclear power makes a lot of sense.

Elon’s perspective on the hidden subsidy behind carbon emitting activities is welcome. These activities place costs on the environment and society that unless corrected are not paid for. This is not how healthy markets function. This subsidy to the fossil fuel industry could amount to $5.3 Trillion according to the IMF.

Elon’s suggestion for a non-partisan revenue neutral carbon tax was a very interesting idea and was the first time I have heard of such a proposal. This would mean that only those using a high level of carbon would pay an increased level of taxation.

I was surprised by Elon’s belief that the 2°C warming will be exceeded with the only question being whether it is considerably higher than that. This shows how far politicians are from reality with commitments made at the Paris conference to limit warming to 1.5°C, but these are not being backed up with ambitious measures to reach this goal.

What you need to know

This article looked into Elon Musk’s perspective on climate change.

I think the most striking outcome of the Elon Musk video was his passion for a revenue neutral carbon tax. This is interesting as he could have easily used it as an opportunity to plug electric vehicles or solar power as the solution as he has businesses interests in these areas.

A carbon tax sounds like a very smart idea to move progress towards sustainable energy at a faster rate. I am however pessimistic about the level of debate that is occurring on this issue as you don’t see this being debated anywhere. The revenue neutral nature of it would make it less of a partisan issue.

In conclusion then, Elon’s perspective on this important issue was interesting and different to what I would have expected.

Next week is Climate Week so If you are hosting your own affiliate events or attending the main event in New York, I hope you have a great time and change some people’s perspectives on climate change.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about the possibility of a carbon tax?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby


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