Elon Musk says oil and gas should not be demonized

(Reuters) - Oil and gas should not be demonized in the medium-term, Elon Musk, the founder of electric car maker Tesla, but he also said it was important to reduce carbon emissions to preserve the planet.

Musk, speaking at a right-wing political gathering organized by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party said: "Climate change alarm is exaggerated in the short term," adding that the environmental movement may have gone too far, causing people to lose faith in the future.

At this month's COP28 climate summit, representatives from nearly 200 countries agreed to begin reducing global consumption of fossil fuels to avert the worst of climate change, signaling the eventual end of the oil age.

Musk said he considers himself an environmentalist and added that it is important that, in the long run, industries reduce the billions of tons of carbon they take from the earth and release into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.

"We should not demonize oil and gas in the medium term," he added.

Asked whether his companies would invest in Italy, Musk said he was worried about the country's declining birth rate.

"I think Italy is a great place to invest, but I do want to emphasize that I worry about a low birth rate. If the workforce declines then who will work in the country?" he said.

He called for the Italian government to create incentives for families to have more children, adding that a country could not rely only on immigration flows to fill the gap.

Italy has earmarked around $1.09 B  in next year's budget to tackle the country's demographic crisis. Births in Italy last year fell for the 14th year in a row and were the lowest since the country's unification in 1861.

Speaking about social media site X, Musk played down concerns about a fall in advertising on the platform.

The platform is "already seeing advertisers return", he said.

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