Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long been a supporter of a revenue-neutral carbon tax to “price the unpriced externalities of carbon emissions”, as he phrases it.
Now that he has a rare access to the Trump administration after joining Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, he is reportedly pushing for a carbon tax with the new President.
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“A senior White House official said Musk floated the idea of a carbon tax at the meeting but got little or no support among the executives at the White House, signaling that Trump’s conservative political orbit remains tepid on the issue.”
Hardly surprising that the bunch of execs present didn’t approve. Aside from Trump and his staff, the executives at the meeting included Mario Longhi — CEO of US Steel, Andrew Liveris — Chairman, president, and CEO of Dow Chemical, Marillyn Hewson — Chairwoman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Mark Fields — President and CEO of Ford.
If the report is correct and Musk brought up a carbon tax at the meeting, it was right before he surprisingly gave his support to the new Secretary of State, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
Tillerson has been known to support a carbon tax and Exxon has supported legislation trying to implement one. Though as we previously reported, it appears to be more about controlling the price and avoiding to pay the true cost of carbon emissions.
Nonetheless, anything higher than $0 is closer to the true cost of polluting and would make a small difference. Musk is supporting a low price on carbon to start and gradually increasing it to reduce emissions.
On the heels of the COP21 climate change talk in Paris in 2015, Musk gave a very interesting talk at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where he laid out his view of climate change and why he sees a carbon tax as the best option to solve the problem:
The chances of him managing to convince the new administration, as well as the Republican-controlled senate and congress, appear very slim at the moment. But as he told Gizmodo yesterday, his goal seems to simply communicate the idea and maintain the communication channels even if there’s no chance that it gets implemented:
“This is something we need to strive for and the more voices of reason that the President hears, the better. Simply attacking him will achieve nothing. Are you aware of a single case where Trump bowed to protests or media attacks? Better that there are open channels of communication.”
What do you think? Do you see any chance for the US to implement a carbon tax within the next 4 years? Let us know in the comment section below.
Featured Image: President Donald Trump meets with business leaders including Elon Musk, left, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington on Jan. 23, 2017. Photographer: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP