Just before the opening of a major climate summit in the French capital, President Macron awarded 18 climate change-focused research grants to researchers from all over the planet. Thirteen have gone to American researchers, and their funding is guaranteed for the entire duration of President Trump’s first (and perhaps last) term in office.
Dubbed the "Make Our Planet Great Again" grants, they aim to boost European climate change research while mitigating the damaging effects of the US federal government. For the first round of awards, 50 different applicants will be chosen, all funded by the state and various research institutions to the tune of $70 million. Next year, a second round of grants will take place that will be co-funded by Germany.
“France and Europe will be the place where we will decide how to make our planet great again,” Macron explained to his audience at a tech event in Paris.
Macron’s been one of Europe’s most passionate climate advocates, and his words have so far been followed closely by action.
Shortly after the inauguration of President Trump, and just before he was elected as the President of the French Republic, he released a video inviting American climate scientists to come to France to “make our planet great again.” This was a clear rebuke of Trump’s “make America great again” mantra.
A scheme was quickly set up that guaranteed that for at least four years, climate scientists will be given four-year-long grants to conduct their research on behalf of the French government. As reported back in July, it worked: hundreds upon hundreds of applications flooded in, with no sign of stopping. The program was so successful it’s since been expanded to non-American academics.
Now, shortly before the One Planet Summit in Paris, Macron has awarded the first of his Make Our Planet Great Again grants to 18 different researchers from both the US and elsewhere. Overall, there have been 1,822 applications from across 100 countries, but so far, most of the applicants, and winners, are American.
As reported by the Associated Press, one American researcher explained that the program “gave me such a psychological boost,” adding that in the US, scientists feel they have to hide what they do.
This announcement follows on from Macron’s pledge that the UN climate programs abandoned by the US – including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – will be fully funded by European states.
“They will not miss a single euro,” he said at the time. He also announced that all French coal power plants will be shut down by 2021.
The state of affairs in the US couldn’t be more different. Although Congress is maintaining a science funding firewall to some degree despite Trump’s wishes to slash it, the White House is still continuing to replace scientists with fossil fuel and petrochemical industry executives, while demoting and censoring those that remain.
Climate science is unequivocally being suppressed in the US, with phrases like “climate change” and “global warming” being discouraged, particularly when it comes to funding grants. Most egregiously, America stands as the only country to reject the groundbreaking Paris agreement after a last-minute signature and ratification by war-torn Syria.
The fact that it’s a surprise that a Trump nominee recently (albeit reluctantly) accepted the finding of a major US report linking humanity to climate change is profoundly grim.
France and other major European nations, including Germany, have been eschewing the White House for some time. Back in June, they announced – along with China – that they would bypass the President and work directly with the states and businesses in America that are still supporting the Paris agreement.