The Paris climate agreement was never about climate science. Anchored in the premise that climate science is “settled,” the accord seeks to dramatically change humanity’s energy supply. Here, the matter really is settled: It’s not going to happen.
Paris advocates assert that, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement, we face an inevitable transition to a multitude of new low-carbon energy technologies that will consign hydrocarbons—oil, natural gas, and coal—to history’s dust heap. All we need to birth the new energy future are the right “incentives,” which Paris provides: The only way to meet aspirational carbon emissions reductions is to replace hydrocarbons.
This so-called multitude of options actually distills to just three things: biofuels, windmills, and solar panels. Some environmentalists include nuclear fission as well. There’s no new physics here: The first fission reaction was in 1939, the first photovoltaic cell was created in 1954, windmills date to the Middle Ages, and making alcohol (the dominant biofuel) predates recorded history.
But, say Paris supporters, all we need are....
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, and author of Expanding America's Petroleum Power: Geopolitics in the Third Oil Era. Follow him on Twitter here.