Tesla's chief executive raises the adage "tragedy of the commons" to describe the world without emissions taxes.

Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk has taken a surprising stance with the Trump Administration, arguing that Rex Tillerson could make a great secretary of state if he can succeed in implementing a carbon tax.

Trump's appointees have been criticized for being allegedly anti-environment and too pro-business. In a Twitter post, however, Musk points out that Tillerson once said "the risk of climate change does exist." The ExxonMobil veteran at one time argued that "action should be taken."

In a follow-up interview with Gizmodo, Musk claimed a carbon tax "matters far more than pipelines or opening oil reserves." He describes emitted carbon dioxide as an "unpriced externality" that should carry a price.

"The problem is the age-old tragedy of the commons," he added. "The common good being consumed is atmospheric and oceanic carbon capacity, which currently has a price of zero. This results in an error in market signals and far more CO2 is generated than should be."

The argument appears to carefully avoid directly categorizing carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

Trump has invited Musk to participate in several discussions attended by executives from other US automakers. He has also joined an advisory team specifically focused on manufacturing policy.