French President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to lure disgruntled foreign climate scientists to France—especially from the United States—has produced its first harvest. France today announced that Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again initiative has recruited its first class of 18 scientists. Of the new recruits, 13, including a few French nationals, now work in the United States, whereas others are based in Canada, India, and elsewhere in Europe.
One recruit is Louis Derry, a U.S. citizen who studies Earth’s critical zone—its life-supporting skin—at Cornell University. When he first heard about Macron's move to attract about 50 high-level foreign climate scientists for France, he thought it had to be another swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump by the satirical newspaper Le Canard enchaîné. But it was real. In June, just a few hours after Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord, Macron cheekily invited disgruntled U.S. scientists to relocate to France. A week later, the French government unveiled a website that soon spelled out the details: It was offering 3- to 5-year grants, worth up to €1.5 million each.
Derry, who says he liked both the scientific opportunity and the collateral benefits, was one of more than 1800 scientists to express initial interest in applying. “I think it’s hard to find too many downsides to living in Paris for a little while,” he says.