France pledges $46.5m for climate research

French President Emmanuel Macron arrives to attend a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on June 12, 2017.
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives to attend a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on June 12, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • France has made good on its promise to invite foreign climate change experts to the country, pledging €30 million (S$46.5 million) to fund the work of up to 50 researchers.

Last Saturday's move came two weeks after President Emmanuel Macron criticised his United States counterpart, Mr Donald Trump, for pulling out of the United Nations' Paris climate agreement - calling on US climate scientists and entrepreneurs to "come and work in France on concrete solutions for climate".

Newly elected Mr Macron further needled Mr Trump when he adapted the latter's nationalist slogan used by Mr Trump on his election campaign trail, by urging defenders of the climate to "make our planet great again".

Last Saturday, the French Environment Ministry said in a statement that Minister of Higher Education Frederique Vidal and investment commissioner Louis Schweitzer "have decided to set up a priority research programme for the fight against climate change".

The government will fund the initiative with €30 million of public money to match what it hopes will be another €30 million from universities and other organisations, making the total funding up to €60 million.

This would fund 50 researchers over five years, said the statement.

Mr Macron, a 39-year-old centrist former banker who took office last month after a meteoric rise, has been the most vocal of European leaders in criticising Mr Trump's decision and in vowing to defend the Paris Agreement.

He launched a website last week aimed at attracting researchers, entrepreneurs and others to France to pursue efforts to combat climate change, using a cheeky twist of Mr Trump's campaign slogan for the site's name: www.makeourplanetgreatagain.fr.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2017, with the headline 'France pledges $46.5m for climate research'. Print Edition | Subscribe