Macron’s climate research programme poaches 18 scientists

Response to US withdrawal from Paris climate accords announces first winners – but has been denounced as a publicity stunt by some French academics

December 12, 2017
Trump and Macron
Source: Alamy

France has poached 18 climate scientists as part of its "Make Our Planet Great Again" initiative – a response from president Emmanuel Macron to Donald Trump's decision earlier this year to pull out of the Paris climate accords.

Thirteen of the 18 are currently based in the US, although researchers based in India, the UK, Spain, Poland, Italy and Canada also won places as part of the programme.

There were more than 1,800 applications, according to the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the majority from the US. Grants are worth up to €1.5 million (£1.3 million) over three to five years for senior researchers, and up to €1 million over the same period for junior researchers.

The successful applicants will move to France in a matter of months, the ministry said. There will be a second round of winners in the spring of 2018.

"The selected projects are of very high level and address especially important issues, such as the impact of climate change on hurricanes, the effect of clouds in climate models, the effects of climate change on pollution as well as the public health consequences of climate change and the impact of climate change on the circular economy," the ministry said in a statement.

Despite the popularity of the programme, it has faced criticism from some French researchers for failing to address problems with the research system at home. The announcement was criticised as a publicity stunt by the National Union of Scientific Researchers, a trade union, which stressed that France was falling behind competitors in terms of the proportion of its economy it devotes to research and development.

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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