Some automakers, especially home country favorite Renault, made a big deal out of electric vehicles during the just-completed COP21 climate change talks in Paris. Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave a speech at the Sorbonne. But those sorts of things don't matter as much as the decades-long change that the UN climate talks might create, depending on the specifics in the deal between 195 nations that was reached over the weekend.

It's pretty much impossible to know exactly how things will pan out, because just how the various countries will reach the agreed-to targets is left up to them. Or, as it says in the deal, "Parties acknowledge that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate."

Whatever actually happens, here's what we do know. While words like "vehicles" and "transportation" do not appear in
the document, the role of fossil fuels in transportation are certainly an official part of the discussion from here on out. The agreement says (on page 5 of the PDF), that, "Parties strive to include all categories of anthropogenic emissions or removals in their nationally determined contributions and, once a source, sink or activity is included, continue to include it." In other words, if you've got to lower your emissions, cleaner cars is a good place to start. One section of the agreement (Article 6, section 4A), could be interpreted to mean countries should encourage more subsidies for EVs, for example. It could mean lots of things, but what it says is that the talks will establish a mechanism, ''To incentivize and facilitate participation in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions by public and private entities." Article 10 says that, "Parties share a long-term vision on the importance of fully realizing technology development and transfer in order to improve resilience to climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." With the right, ABG-colored lenses, we can read that as, "let's create better, cooler zero-emission vehicles."

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