Donald Trump Emmanuel Macron.

France’s import of brainpower will likely make it a nexus of climate science

Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again call seems to set France firmly on the path to becoming a green science heavyweight.

Donald Trump Emmanuel Macron.

Image credits US Embassy France.

World leaders were generally pretty cross with President Trumps’ call to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement. In particular, French president Emmanuel Macron responded to the decision with what at the time looked like a case of tongue-in-cheek trolling: by turning Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan on its head, calling for people from all around the world to “make our planet great again.”

In the meantime, it became apparent that Macron was willing to put his money where his mouth is. Working in tandem with Business France, a governmental agency tasked with promoting French businesses overseas, Macron’s administration put together a Make Our Planet Great Again website stating that “France has always led fights for human rights” and is “determined to lead (and win!) this battle on climate change.” Since then, the movement has gained a lot of traction, as well as the attention and support of people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If you want to throw your hat in with the proverbial lot and contribute to that goal, there’s a link which will take you to a short survey. By the looks of it, it seems France is interested in recruiting entrepreneurs, teachers, researchers, students, NGOs, even “other”s into their fold. And researchers, in particular, are getting a lot of love.

Grants for grabs

Choose the researcher option and you’ll wind your way to a page with details on the research program and how to apply if you’re currently in the US. France is especially interested in anyone with a background in climate change, earth sciences, and energy traditions — the website defines this last one as including “renewable energies, innovative zero-carbon energy sources, energy storage, smart energy-management systems, hydrogen vector, carbon storage, electrification of vehicles, as well as human and social sciences to understand, accompany, or open options for energy transition.”

You’ll be prompted to upload a short research plan and a summary of your academic record. And then, a button graces your view. Etched upon its digital surface lie those few words that keep researchers up all night, every night: “How do I finance my project?”

The section lists the grants made available for the program, and I’m happy to say they’re quite sizable. Each grant runs for four years and will amount to between one million Euros for a junior researcher, to one and a half million for senior researchers. The lower sum should be enough to cover salary, two grad students, and research expenses, while the senior grant also allows for two full-time research staff.

With France’s grants up for grabs and the Trump administration’s efforts to cut down on climate research and spending, it’s no surprise that many researchers are interested in Macron’s program.

“Applications continue to come in every hour,” Dr Anne Peyroche, chief research officer of national research agency CNRS, told Nature.


The total grants to be awarded would sum up close to 55 million Euros. The 50 scientists selected to receive the grant money will be announced towards the end of this year.

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