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Tesla skeptics are hung up about its $465M paid loan, but the fossil fuel industry gets $11M of subsidies every minute

Credit: Tesla Greater China/Twitter

With Elon Musk speaking out about the Biden administration’s recent intentions to tax unrealized gains, it has become a frequent sight on social media for Tesla skeptics and bears to bring up the fact that the EV maker would not exist if the Obama administration did not loan $465 million to Tesla to keep it afloat. This “bailout,” which is how Tesla critics typically dub the $465 million loan, had been paid by the company a full nine years early — and with interest.

What is interesting is that in the grand scheme of things, Tesla’s $465 million loan from the Obama administration is but a drop in the bucket, at least compared to the subsidies that are currently enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry. As per a comprehensive report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the fossil fuel industry currently benefits from subsidies of $11 million per minute. That’s a whopping $5.9 trillion worth of subsidies granted for the production and burning of coal, oil, and gas in 2020. 

As per the IMF report, setting fossil fuel prices that actually reflect their true cost could cut worldwide CO2 emissions by over 30%, and thus, it would be a substantial step towards meeting the internationally agreed 1.5C target. Ensuring that such a target is still within reach is a goal of the UN’s Cop26 climate summit this coming November. Interestingly enough, among the Cop26’s goal is to agree on rules for carbon markets, which would enable the appropriate pricing for pollution, as per a report from The Guardian

Ian Parry, the lead author of the IMF report, noted that a reform on how the fossil fuel industry is currently subsidized could result in massive benefits. “There would be enormous benefits from reform, so there’s an enormous amount at stake. Some countries are reluctant to raise energy prices because they think it will harm the poor. But holding down fossil fuel prices is a highly inefficient way to help the poor because most of the benefits accrue to wealthier households. It would be better to target resources towards helping poor and vulnerable people directly,” Parry noted. 

Mike Coffin, a senior analyst at Carbon Tracker, a think tank, agreed with this sentiment, noting that it’s crucial for governments to stop supporting an industry that’s already in decline anyway. “To stabilize global temperatures, we must urgently move away from fossil fuels instead of adding fuel to the fire. It’s critical that governments stop propping up an industry that is in decline and look to accelerate the low-carbon energy transition and our future, instead,” Coffin stated. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has noted in the past that he actually feels bad about people who have made their career in the oil and gas industry. Musk has also made it clear that he is a proponent of a carbon tax, which his companies such as SpaceX would gladly pay. According to the Tesla CEO, however, the Biden administration was hesitant about his proposal

“I talked to the Biden administration, and they were like ‘Well, this seems too politically difficult.’ And I was like, ‘Well, this is obviously a thing that should happen.’ And by the way, SpaceX would be paying a carbon tax too. So I’m like, you know, I’m like, I think we should pay it too. It’s not like we shouldn’t have carbon generating things. It’s just that there’s got to be a price on this stuff,” Musk said. 

Read the IMF’s comprehensive report below. 

IMF – Still Not Getting Energy Prices Right: A Global and Country Update of Fossil Fuel Subsidies by Simon Alvarez on Scribd

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Tesla skeptics are hung up about its $465M paid loan, but the fossil fuel industry gets $11M of subsidies every minute
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