Macron’s call for foreign climate researchers gets Gallic shrug

Initiative to bring in US scientists causes backlash among scientists awaiting funding at home

October 18, 2017
Climate change in action
Source: iStock

French president Emmanuel Macron made global headlines this summer by calling on foreign scientists to join his climate change initiative, “Make Our Planet Great Again”, encouraging US scientists in particular to relocate to France.

But the pitch has not impressed some French academics, who describe it as merely a public relations stunt to boost the president’s image.

The funds for the programme cited by Mr Macron “were already earmarked for future research programmes”, Olivier Berné, an astrophysicist at the National Centre for Scientific Research, said in an interview with France 24. He suggested that the money “could have been better spent on, for example, universities”.

"For us, this is difficult to swallow," Dr Berne said.

Mr Macron’s project was launched in reaction against US president Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris accord on global warming, with the added aim of putting France on the map for environmental research. About 50 research grants worth between €1-1.5 million (£895,000-£1.34 million) were to be made available and by the end of September some 255 scientists from 41 different countries had applied.

rachael.pells@timeshighereducation.com

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