On December 12 the jubilation from Le Bourget, France, a suburb of Paris, was apparent. From a beaming Al Gore to a euphoric U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, conference participants cheered history being made as nearly 200 countries signed “ the Paris Agreement,” a pledge limiting greenhouse-gas emissions in five-year increments.

Many of the signatories have already reported their targets for 2020, including the U.S. Still, after the champagne corks flew, just what did they agree to, and what will it mean to investors in a still-major industry, the auto industry, for the economy and the environment?

A number of environmentalists, including the “father” of climate change, Columbia University professor James Hansen, don’t think the document goes far enough. After all, U.S. secretary of State John Kerry made sure the word “shall” was replaced with “should” when the former was inserted, supposedly accidentally during typing, in a critical part of the pact. The reason: To ensure that the so-called agreement avoided Congress altogether.

It’s also unclear how a nonbinding agreement will affect industry. Carbon dioxide reductions that call for keeping emissions low enough to halt the temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius aren’t necessarily in many companies’ short-term interests. Sure, oil and transportation companies flocked to the 21st Conference of the Parties meeting (COP21) outside Paris, but were their hearts truly in it? All you have to do is drive on a highway to realize that Americans remain almost pathologically in love with sport utility vehicles.

Brian Irwin, a Dallas-based partner at Chicago consulting firm A.T. Kearney who leads the firm's automotive practice, says of about 17.5 million cars sold in the U.S. last year, only an estimated 3 percent of them were alternative-fuel cars and light trucks.

When it comes to adopting electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids, Irwin is bullish, even though numbers haven’t spiked. “Back in 2011, we sold roughly the same amount [percentage-wise of alternative vehicles],” he says. “The penetration of alternative powertrain cars was similar in 2011 as in 2015 — as a percentage of total cars sold in the U.S. In both years that was roughly 3 percent.”

Tesla Motors, based in Palo Alto, California, sold approximately 50,580 EVs last year, mostly Model S sedans. High-profile Tesla buyers, such as The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert, have helped raise the profile of these EVs.