Elon Musk has said that people should not “demonise” oil and gas while also hitting out at environmentalists and claiming that climate change is “exaggerated in the short term” at a right-wing summit.

Musk, the CEO of electric vehicle and battery maker Tesla, said that “very few people” can claim to have done more than he has to build a “sustainable energy future”.

“I am objectively one of the world’s leading environmentalists in terms of doing things,” he said. “Of action, not talk.”

Musk, a star guest at this weekend’s political festival in Rome organised by Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s hard right Brothers of Italy party, continued that it is because of his green credentials he could say that the “environmentalist movement has gone too far.”

The “natural extension” of this is that you “start to look at humanity as a bad thing... as though we are a plague on the surface of the Earth.”

“I think the climate change alarm is somewhat overblown in the short term,” he said.

“It’s still a concern in the long term but I think it’s exaggerated in the short term.”

What matters is that in the next “several decades” humanity gradually reduces the amount of carbon it is putting into the atmosphere, “because we’re running a climate experiment which is dangerous.”

“But I also don’t think of it as a fundamental civilisational risk,” he said. “It won’t destroy humanity.”

Musk’s “pragmatic” and “sensible” message was that “I don’t think we should demonise oil and gas.”

“I think we should say look that is obviously necessary in the short term and the medium term too,” he said.

“Without getting too worried about it,” he said that if humanity “gradually” seeks to have a sustainable energy future “then that’s what will happen.”