Elon Musk endorses carbon tax at Tesla shareholders’ assembly


Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla, waves as he arrives for a discussion at the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC on Monday, March 9, 2020.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk again endorsed the idea of ​​a federal CO2 tax at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in 2021 on Thursday.

He said the three parts of a “sustainable future” he thought were solar and wind power, batteries for energy storage and all types of electric vehicles including cars, boats and planes.

“If we move to a sustainable energy network and electric vehicles, then of course we are moving to a fully sustainable energy economy, which we want to get to as quickly as possible. The sooner the better! And can there be a CO2 tax? mean what the hell, “said Musk on Thursday, expressing his impatience.

A carbon tax or a tax on greenhouse gas emissions has long been proposed to reduce emissions of gases that cause climate change, especially carbon dioxide. Some proponents believe that a carbon tax should increase over time to give industry time to discover and introduce lower-carbon alternatives to the products and processes they use that emit carbon.

According to the New York Times, more than 40 governments have introduced some kind of carbon price, but the United States has not.

A carbon tax would help Tesla by making gas more expensive, which would make its electric vehicles more attractive, and by rising energy prices that could encourage homeowners to adopt solar panels from Tesla and other suppliers. Musk admitted this, but noted that it would hurt his reusable missile business, SpaceX, a sizeable fossil fuel consumer who plans to drill for natural gas and use methane for its rocket operation in Boca Chica.

“So how about a CO2 tax? We just really need them, ”he said.

Musk also strongly supported the idea of ​​getting more materials out of used batteries through improved recycling technologies and processes.

“Battery materials are definitely recyclable. It is not burning gas. CO2 is an extremely stable molecule. The Martian atmosphere has consisted mainly of CO2 for billions of years, I don’t know. It is extremely stable. Sometimes people worry about methane so worry too much about methane. Methane breaks down quickly into CO2. Methane is not a stable molecule. CO2 is extremely stable, “Musk urged his audience, as if to justify SpaceX’s use of methane.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, methane is more than 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide when trapping heat in the atmosphere. Methane is also the second most common greenhouse gas emitted by human activities and industry, second only to carbon dioxide. It is responsible for around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Austin updates

At the annual shareholders meeting, Musk also spoke about Tesla’s goal of building cars closer to where customers order them. This can save the company shipping costs, but it can also reduce its environmental footprint from shipping, Musk suggested.

“The sheer amount of money we spend flying parts around the world isn’t great,” said Musk. “It makes sense to produce on the continent where the consumers are.”

Tesla currently has a new factory near Austin, Texas to produce batteries on site, and another outside of Berlin, Germany.

On Thursday, Tesla also confirmed that it had relocated its headquarters to Austin.

Musk expects the Texas factory, named Giga-Austin, to follow in the footsteps of Tesla’s Shanghai factory, which now produces more electric cars than its original factory in Fremont, California.

At least at its annual shareholders meeting, Musk announced that the battery and manufacturing advances Tesla is working on could soon lead to cheaper cars for the company. “In about three years we are confident that we can build a very compelling $ 25,000 electric vehicle that is also fully autonomous,” he said at the time. Tesla also said last year that it designs and manufactures its own 4,680 battery cells at a facility in Fremont, California.

On Thursday, Musk didn’t give an update at the time for a $ 25,000 electric vehicle.

But he said Tesla wouldn’t be producing 4,680 battery cells in Texas this year. Instead, it would manufacture these cells at its pilot facility in Fremont and ship them to Texas while Model Y production ramped up there.

Long-term, Musk said he believes the crossover utility vehicle is likely to become Tesla’s bestseller, surpassing the Model 3 sedan in popularity.

Earlier this month, Tesla announced it had delivered 241,300 electric vehicles in the third quarter of 2021 and produced 237,823 cars in the same period.

The deliveries are closest to the sales reported by Tesla. The company set a new record as shipments from other automakers decreased year over year, mainly due to supply chain issues including a global chip shortage.

Musk does not see a full resolution to global supply chain problems until 2023, he said on Thursday.