The Tesla boss warned at an energy conference in Norway that it would be a danger to stop drilling for oil and gas, despite climate experts stressing the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground to avoid climate catastrophe. But he did say that world still needs to wait before a greater capacity for renewable energy is developed, saying that the green transition is “one of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced”.
Mr Musk, who is also the SpaceX CEO, said: “Realistically I think we need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise civilization will crumble.”
When asked if Norway should carry on drilling for gas and oil, Mr Musk responded said: “I think some additional exploration is warranted at this time.”
“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.”
However, the Tesla boss is still supportive of transitioning away from fossil fuels in the long-term, and touted offshore wind power generation in the North Sea and battery packs as key clean energy alternatives.
He said: “It could provide a strong, sustainable energy source in winter.”
This comes as global gas prices have sent energy bills skyrocketing across Europe, with knock-on effects being felt by UK households too.
While climate campaigners have stressed that we need to focus on renewables now and abandon any new oil and gas projects, a number of Governments are using gas as a “transitionfuel” for the eventual shift to clean energy.
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However, a report by an international panel of UN climate scientists warned last year that the climate crisis is now a “code red for humanity”, arguing that disaster will strike unless urgent action is taken to limit warming.
And while some Governments have labelled gas as a “transition fuel”, another study has warned that countries should move straight from coal to renewables.
This is despite the EU pressing ahead with plans to label investments into gas and nuclear as green investments under its taxonomy, sparking fury among climate campaigners.
EU commissioner for financial services Mairead McGuinness said that “the reason we are including gas and nuclear in the way we are doing it is because we firmly believe that this recognises the need for these energy sources in transition”.
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Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout, who is also vice-chair of the European parliament’s environment committee, said: “The European Commission is significantly undermining the EU’s credibility as a climate actor.
“At the UN climate summit in Glasgow, small steps were taken towards phasing out fossil fuels.
“Yet, unfortunately, the commission is already turning back the clock and leaving the door open to the gas industry.”