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‘Green’ billionaire Elon Musk says world needs more oil and gas

The billionaire promoted renewable energy while saying he didn’t want to ‘demonize’ fossil fuels

Ethan Freedman
Climate Reporter, New York
Monday 29 August 2022 21:15 BST
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Elon Musk told reporters on Monday that he thinks fossil fuels are still necessary in the “short-term” to keep society moving.

“At this time, we actually need more oil and gas, not less,” the Tesla CEO said at an energy conference in Norway, Bloomberg reports.

Mr Musk also said he doesn’t want to “demonize” fossil fuels, and that “we must have a clear path to a sustainable energy future”.

Last year, Bloomberg called Mr Musk the world’s number one “green billionaire.”

“Realistically I think we need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise civilisation will crumble,” Mr Musk said on Monday.

“One of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced is the transition to sustainable energy and to a sustainable economy. That will take some decades to complete.”

That transition should happen “as fast as possible”, Mr Musk said.

The billionaire also told the conference that his two biggest priorities at the moment are achieving self-driving in Tesla cars and getting the SpaceX Starship, a new rocket model, into orbit, Reuters reported.

Many climate experts agree that the world could not simply switch off all reliance on fossil fuels like oil and gas immediately. But they have also urged local and national governments to promote renewable energy like wind, solar and hydropower while weaning society off of planet-warming fossil fuels.

One point of contention for some climate experts and activists is nuclear power – which some environmentalists see as a potential hazard, but others see as a source of carbon-free energy. At the conference in Norway, Mr Musk said that he supported nuclear energy, according to Bloomberg.

“If you have a well-designed nuclear plant, you should not shut it down, especially right now,” he said.

In Germany, long-planned shutdowns of nuclear power plants have been called into question amid energy worries surrounding the war in Ukraine. California lawmakers are also considering extending the life of the state’s Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant to shore up power supplies.

These are not the only recent comments Mr Musk has made on the climate crisis recently. Last week, he tweeted: “Population collapse due to low birth rates is a much bigger risk to civilization than global warming”.

“(And I do think global warming is a major risk)”, he added.

According to the United Nations, the median global population is forecast to reach more than 10 billion people before the end of the century, before dipping slightly. Currently, the world has just under eight billion residents.

The climate crisis — mostly powered by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal — is expected to bring more frequent and more intense disasters like floods, wildfires, storms and droughts to countries all over the world.

Just this year, the world has seen devastating and deadly floods, from Pakistan to Kentucky and Uganda – alongside massive, devastating wildfires from the southwest US to Siberia. In addition, intense heatwaves have pummelled Europe, Texas and India, while ongoing drought in the western US has put long-term water supplies in the region at risk.

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