Promising to ‘Make Our Planet Great Again,’ Macron lures 13 U.S. climate scientists to France


By: - Climate DepotDecember 11, 2017 5:10 PM

 December 11 at 2:15 PM

Former secretary generals of the United Nations Kofi Annan, left, and Ban Ki-moon, right, sit across from French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Dec, 11, 2017. (Pool photo by Michel Euler via Reuters)

What initially looked like an impish dig at President Trump by French President Emmanuel Macron over climate policy has turned into a concrete plan.

First, when the Trump administration proposed slashing federal science budgets and then, on June 1, when Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, Macron took to social media to offer (in perfect English) to greet with open arms — and research dollars — American scientists worried about the political climate as well as global warming.

Macron urged worried climate scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to see France as a “second homeland” and to come work there because “we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again.”

Two years after the Paris climate accord was adopted, the French government is unveiling a list of 18 “laureates” — 13 of them working in the United States — who have won a “Make Our Planet Great Again” competition for research grants awarded for as long as five years. They include professors and researchers at Cornell University, Columbia University, Stanford University and other institutions.

“For me, the chance to work on some very exciting science questions with my French colleagues and not be so dependent on the crazy stuff that goes on in Congress and with the current administration is honestly very attractive,” Louis A. Derry, a professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell, said in an interview. “But it can be embarrassing to try and explain what is going on at home right now.”

Derry lamented a “devaluing of science by this administration.” And he said the tax plan Congress is considering would have a “catastrophic” effect on graduate students. “I don’t think the country is well served by this,” he said.

The French government’s offer attracted 1,822 applications, nearly two-thirds of them from the United States. France’s research ministry pruned that to 450 “high-quality” candidates for long-term projects. A second round of grants will be awarded in the partnership with Germany.