French President Emmanuel Macron has announced millions of dollars in funding for 18 foreign scientists, including 13 U.S.-based researchers, to move to France and conduct climate research as part of his government’s “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative — a direct response to President Trump’s environmental rollback and cuts to science funding.
The grant program, announced by Macron in June just days after Trump said the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, offers foreign climate scientists three- to five-year grants worth up to $1.75 million. The aim is to award grants, totaling more than $70 million, to 50 high-level scientists to do research at French institutions.
“We will be there to replace” U.S. financing of climate research, Macron said while announcing the winners on Monday. “If we want to prepare for the changes of tomorrow, we need science.”
The first round of scientists to be awarded grants include U.S. researchers Camille Parmesan, a biologist from the University of Texas at Austin who studies the impact of climate change on species; atmospheric scientists Louis Derry of Cornell and Barbara Ervens from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and climate scientists Alessandra Giannini of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Benjamin Sanderson of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Other U.S. winners come from Princeton University, Stanford University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Colorado in Boulder, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, among others.
“For me, the chance to work on some very exciting science questions with my French colleagues and not be so dependent on the crazy stuff that goes on in Congress and with the current administration is honestly very attractive,” Derry told The Washington Post. “It can be embarrassing to try and explain what is going on at home right now.”
Of the more than 1,800 scientists who expressed interest in the Make Our Planet Great Again funding initiative, 450 were deemed eligible, and 255 submitted applications, Science magazine reported.