During the UN Climate Change Conference, negotiations were underway to pass an international treaty meant to stop the world's yearly average temperature from rising by two degrees Celsius.
Musk is asking world leaders to phase in a revenue-neutral carbon tax. His proposition refers to a solution that ensures that governments would still obtain the same revenue from taxes despite an important change in the tax code.
This implies reducing taxes on other areas and raising them for carbon emissions. Musk even came up with an example: the current taxes on cigarettes and alcohol compared to the tax on fruits. A similar approach could come to carbon emissions while taxes on eco-friendly products could come down to support the change.
Instead of summoning world leaders directly, Musk suggested to his student audience to press politicians to take action on this global matter. His explanation makes sense: "Governments respond to popular pressure."
Besides, if Musk had directly requested world leaders to develop a solution that would favor eco-friendly vehicles through taxes, some voices from the traditional car making industry could have accused him of a hidden agenda. This so-called hidden agenda would be justified by the fact that Musk's company, Tesla Motors, only manufactures electric vehicles.
Along with his statement regarding a carbon tax, Elon Musk also predicted an end to carbon usage. According to him, this will only happen when the world runs out of this resource. Considering that many countries subsidize carbon mining activities, the transition Musk and other ecologists dream of will take some time to happen.