Macron entices US scientists to France with climate grants as summit starts
French President Emmanuel Macron announced the first 18 winners for his “Make the Planet Great Again” initiative, announced in June after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the international, non-binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions.
The grants will provide recipients with funding of up to $1.8 million over a three to five year period.
The name of the initiative is a not-so subtle reference to Trump’s campaign slogan and governing philosophy, which many see as isolationist and antithetical to international cooperation.
Among the winners were some prominent American names, including Camille Parmesan, a Texan who studies the effect of climate change on ecosystems. As a lead author of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Parmesan was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 2007.
Parmesan called the French initiative “absolutely fabulous, and a very appropriate response to Trump pulling out of the Paris Accords,” according to the journal Science. She will join a center for theoretical and experimental ecology in the southwestern French city of Moulis, according to the report.
In a video posted on Twitter, the French President thanked those who had applied, and the winners for their commitment.
“Thank you for your answer to this first call, your decision to move and come to Paris,” he wrote in the post. “Here you have a hub to do more.” Alongside Paris, the recipients of the grants will be relocating to cities across the country.
Summit to open
The announcement came as Macron prepares to host dozens of world leaders at the One Planet Summit in the French capital in a show of commitment to the 2015 Paris Accord, two years to the day after the historic climate deal was inked in the same city.
Macron will be joined by Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, and Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, alongside over 50 heads of state in addressing what the summit organizers have called “the ecological emergency for our planet.”
There will be at least one notable absentee at the La Seine Musicale venue in Paris. Trump, who took the US out of the agreement signed by his predecessor in June, has not been invited to attend.
Trump’s decision to pull out made the US — one of the world’s largest polluters — the lone holdout to the non-binding treaty, following the subsequent signing-on by Nicaragua and Syria, the only two other countries to have resisted. Nearly 200 countries signed on the pact in 2015.
The aim of Tuesday’s summit is to jump-start the lagging transition to a greener global economy.
Around 20 projects, which “illustrate the fact that concrete local and global solutions exist to address the challenges we face,” will be showcased throughout the day-long summit, according to organizers.
Not everyone is happy with the awarding of the Make the Planet Great Again grants, with some in France criticizing the providence of funds to overseas scientists at the cost of research in France.
French scientific research trade union SNCS-FSU said in a statement that it “condemns” the initiative, describing it as just a public relations campaign that doesn’t bring “any additional support for French research.”
It added that the grants, which benefit scientists from abroad, are “an insult to French scientists … whose commitment is not appropriately rewarded in their own country.”