12 December 2017

France awards ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ grants to US climate scientists

French President Emmanuel Macron has awarded long-term research grants to 18 research scientists so can they continue their research on climate change in France.

Earlier this year, when US President Trump announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Emmanuel Macron expressed its disappointment and reassured climate scientists that France will always welcome their expertise.

In his speech in June, he said: “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs who were disappointed by the decision of the President of the United States I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call them to come and work here, with us on concrete solutions for our climate and our environment. I can assure you that France will not give up the fight”.

To this end, he launched the ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ initiative, where he called ‘responsible citizens’ from all over the world to work in France and enrich its work against climate change. The appeal addressed to researchers or teachers, businesses and entrepreneurs, associations and non-profit organisations.

The research grants are part of this initiative and seek to overcome the many scientific and technological challenges of the field. This includes climate change modelling; ecosystems; and technological and social challenges associated with the energy transition.

Initially, the grants were aimed at American researchers exclusively, but according to the organisers, they were expanded to include other countries as well.

The French President said that more than 5,000 people from about 100 different countries expressed interest. However, the majority of the grants were awarded to US-based scientists, i.e. 13 out of 18.

Research projects should last for 3 to 5 years; for senior researchers, the funding will be up to €1.5 million and for junior researchers up to €1 million.

One of the winners, Camille Parmesan from the University of Texas, said: “Macron’s appeal gave me such a psychological boost, to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do”.

She revealed that at the moment there are significant funding challenges in the US for climate research stating that climate researchers have a constant feeling that “you have to hide what you do”.

A new round of grants will launch at the beginning of 2018, this time in collaboration with Germany, which will allocate approximately €60 million to 50 projects.

Macron said during the ceremony: “We will be there to replace US financing of climate research. If we want to prepare for the changes of tomorrow, we need science”.

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