Consumers can drive climate action – look at the success of Elon Musk’s Tesla

People are switching to electric cars – not because governments tell them to, but because they want to buy them, writes Hamish McRae

Tuesday 26 October 2021 17:05
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<p>Tesla chief Elon Musk at the Tesla China-made Model 3 Delivery Ceremony in Shanghai</p>

Tesla chief Elon Musk at the Tesla China-made Model 3 Delivery Ceremony in Shanghai

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Follow the money. Elon Musk has become by far the richest person in the world, worth some $290bn. The news that Hertz would be buying 100,000 Tesla cars catapulted the company’s market value to $1 trillion. Add in the fact that last month the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling car in Europe, it seems clear that a tipping point has been passed.

You could say Elon Musk has been given his reward for services to environmental issues, for he has pretty much single-handedly transformed the global motor fleet from internal combustion engines to electric ones. Or you might equally say that it shows the absurdly high valuations now put on US technology companies, for eight of the top 10 wealthiest people in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, are American technology billionaires. (The top UK entry in the index, James Dyson, comes in at number 71 – rich Britons are way down the global league table.)

Either way, Elon Musk’s wealth raises an issue that should be at the heart of the debate at Cop26 in Glasgow next week. It is the extent to which market capitalism has become part of the solution.

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