Elon Musk says he suggested a carbon tax to the Biden administration, but the idea was dismissed as too divisive.
Appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on Thursday, the Tesla CEO said: “I talked to the Biden Administration – incoming administration – and they were like ‘well, this seems too politically difficult.'”
Musk did not say when he had spoken to the Biden administration, but he twice referred to it as “incoming,” suggesting the conversation happened before President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.’
He added that his space exploration company SpaceX would pay any carbon tax. Bloomberg reported last month that SpaceX was trying to gain regulatory clearance to drill for natural gas in Texas.
“I think the Biden administration should take a strong stance on the situation,” Musk said. “It’s like at least half the reason they got elected.”
Biden’s climate-change manifesto never included a carbon tax, although he did emphasize environmental policies during his campaign, and rejoined the Paris Climate Accord on his first day as president.
“The Paris Accord, that’s just a piece of paper unless you do something about it,” Musk said, calling it “pretty much toothless.” This isn’t the first time Musk has made noise about a carbon tax. The Tesla billionaire first called for one during a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris in 2015. In 2017, while acting as an advisor to the Trump administration, Musk also reportedly pushed for a carbon tax.
Musk left the two advisory councils he sat on for the Trump White House in June 2017 after Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord.
In his interview with Rogan, Musk said CO2-production is currently “unpriced externality,” i.e. there are no market incentives to avoid using fossil fuels. “If we just put a price on it, the market would react in a sensible way,” he said.
He also called for the oil and gas industries to stop lobbying against a carbon tax, and said the “smartest thing” they could do was support it to escape a bad public image.
Musk’s appearance on Rogan’s podcast came four days after the billionaire released details about a $100 million competition he’s funding for carbon-capture technology.
Musk has also received criticism recently over his climate change commitments, after Tesla announced it would start accepting payments in Bitcoin. The process of Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity annually than some nation states, including Argentina.