SCIENCE
05/03/2018 08:42 am ET Updated May 15, 2018

U.S. Climate Scientists Flee For France To ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’

Some of America's top researchers will move to France to continue their research.

Fourteen climate researchers, including six from U.S. universities, have been selected for French President Emmanuel Macron’s “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative. The scientists applied to move to France to carry out climate science projects in the country’s top research laboratories.

The selected researchers include some of America’s brightest scientific talents: Alexey Fedorov, a Yale professor and Guggenheim fellow, and James Clark, a Duke University climate expert, according to a press release Wednesday from France’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

Researchers hailing from universities in several other countries, including Canada and Saudi Arabia, also were selected.

The applicants’ projects, covering a range of topics including Arctic climate change and improving air quality, are expected to last three to five years. Each researcher will receive at least $600,000 in funding, according to the statement, which noted that Germany is now jointly supporting the initiative.

Macron first introduced “Make Our Planet Great Again” last year, after President Donald Trump announced plans to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Macron urged climate scientists and others around the world to apply for an opportunity to work in France.

Trump’s “decision is unfortunate but it only reinforced our determination,” Macron said in a message on the initiative’s website. “France has always led fights for human rights. Today, more than ever, we are determined to lead (and win!) this battle on climate change.”

Macron reiterated his commitment to fighting climate change in an address to the U.S. Congress last week. 

“What is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet, sacrificing the future of our children?” he asked lawmakers during his visit to Washington.

The first group of 18 scientists selected for the program was announced in December. That group included 13 researchers from U.S. universities, including Camille Parmesan, a professor at the University of Texas and U.K.’s University of Plymouth who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for her work as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“The impact of Trump on climate science has been far greater than what the public believe it has,” Parmesan told The Guardian of her decision to move to France to continue her research. “He has not only slashed funding, but he’s gone on the attack in any way he can with his powers as the president.”

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