The Implications of the Paris Climate Deal 

Todd Royal
Todd Royal is an independent public policy consultant focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy based in Los Angeles, California.

Rational people want a clean environment. Usually it has been western, wealthy nations leading the environmental movement with California and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) leading the way. California can afford to clean up their air, water and be concerned about carbon emissions; now that their economies are mature enough since Maslow’s hierarchy of needs have been met. Not so for large parts of Africa, Asia, Russia, South America, China, and the American electorate that is more concerned about jobs and the economy.

Except the environment in California has now taken on a shibboleth-like quality of an either/or proposition. Instead, it should be seen through the lens of deliverable, scalable energy while fostering prosperity and energy security for every California County. However, under the current terms, the Paris Climate Agreement was an incredible achievement of nations coming together, but other than symbolically – it wouldn’t do much to help California’s environmental health – or economy.

The Paris Climate agreement was signed by 178 countries in 2016, and will be implemented over 14 years at a projected cost of $1-2 trillion per year according to the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum and The Asia Modeling Experience. Giny McCarthy the former EPA administrator at a June 22, 2016 testimony before the United States (U.S.) Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology couldn’t quantify how much global temperature would be reduced under this agreement.California has wholeheartedly embraced this agreement, but would they if Governor Brown and the Legislature understood the details and costs?

Unfortunately when statements by the EPA can’t give hard facts for how this deal will lower global temperatures that is a major problem for its effectiveness. This causes the agreement to be seen as nothing more than vague promises when actual environmental action needs to be accomplished in ChinaIndia, and thedeveloping world. For California the Inland Empire and Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley need to have cleaner air; by valuing scalable, low-carbon assets as hydroelectric, nuclear power, fuel-efficient vehicles, clean coal technologies, and natural gas are more effective than embracing the Paris Climate Agreement.

According to Bjorn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center using the United Nation’s Climate Model the Paris Climate Agreement will only postpone temperature rise by less than 0.3 F. What would be better for California’s prosperity would be to follow the model recently announced by Bill Gates for $7 billion in clean energy research and development to come from private individuals.  TheBreakthrough Institute has also done commendable work on clean energy while emphasizing technology and human ingenuity to solve the world’s clean energy problems. Mr. Gates and the Breakthrough Institute both appeal for clean energy without entities like CARB getting in the way.

There are answers to deliver energy at a lower cost that isn’t dirty like conventional coal while being environmentally clean. This means of energy delivery further brings a robust answer to how millions of Californians could achieve prosperity without killing off their society through pollution-filled skies. The answer is natural gas.

Currently, renewables can’t meet California’s energy needs. The basic building block of California’s economy is energy. We need a proper energy portfolio that doesn’t rely on dubious carbon treaties, caps on emissions, CARB regulations and taxes from our legislature; instead millions will suffer in dirty, polluted conditions that natural gas and clean coal could deliver them from at cheap, low-cost, scalable prices. Not the dirty infestation of coal or poorly built natural gas plants that are currently killing Chinese, African, European, and Indian skies – and all this – could happen in California.  But a technologically superior energy product that a cheap, even clean version of coal now being developedin Japan, China, and South Korea offers to California along with abundant natural gas.

The Paris Climate Agreement had good intentions, but the cost of $100 trillion by the year 2100 while only lowering the temperature 0.3 F – (and that is with full implementation of all pledges and promises by the signatories) – isn’t worth the cost. If we really want green energy innovation while not costing economies trillions, then nothing lowers CO2 emissions like natural gas.

In Russell Gold’s book: The Boom, Mr. Gold writes on page 265:

“The United States is one of the few places in the world that decreased its carbon output – and decreased it dramatically. It never ratified the Kyoto Protocol – a United Nations effort to enact greenhouse gas emission reductions – but is on pace to exceed the targets anyway, even though many signatory nations have failed to meet their obligations.”

Further Mr. Gold states The International Energy Agency (IEA) has also forecasted that increased natural gas use “will lower CO2 output in the United States and other industrialized nations – even China – if they adopt natural gas as their main energy source.”

This demonstrates how California could have clean energy while still allowing California to thrive economically without the job constrainers that AB 32 and SB 32 have become. The two don’t have to be rivals – commerce and ecologically sound environments – but with natural gas the best of everything is offered. Further when the value chain is put into the natural gas equation this is the definition of California energy security and environmentally sound policy-making working together to create jobs. After reliable energy nothing is more important than good jobs that create thriving middle classes in California.

The other interesting point that natural gas offers is that a natural gas power plant can turn on and off quickly (usually within 1-6 hours) and could form a type of symbiotic relationship with renewables. Renewables biggest issue is intermittent weather. Meaning, their power comes and goes with sun and wind. Capturing the abundant availability of natural gas that California has.

What should be happening is clean coal should be developed, and Bill Gates’ genius for business and new technology fostered as never before; but use natural gas to build billion dollar plants, meet societal needs and hire thousands to build infrastructure around energy’s building blocks for California.

California Senate leader, Senator Kevin de’ Leon should be focusing on an all-of-the-above solution for energy, and not only seeing renewable energy as the only viable option to meet California’s growing needs.

Being correct on energy is important, and the Paris Climate Agreement made a valiant attempt, but to truly have energy security then natural gas and other fossil fuels make the most sense at this time while the obstacles holding renewable energy back are being overcome. Energy as a commodity and giver of human progress began with the industrial revolution and led by the discovery of how to deliver oil, natural gas and coal to growing economies. With the new U.S. administration being a believer in natural gas, technologies to boost its use can be developed by California companies that boost profits, create jobs, and protect the environment as never before.

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