Macron’s climate charm offensive continues with Davos Trump jibe

The French president said he was thankful no-one “sceptical” had been invited to the World Economic Forum, while touting climate action as a “pillar” of his strategy

Emmanuel Macron, president of France (Pic: WEF/Michele Limina)

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Emmanuel Macron made a veiled dig at Donald Trump’s views on climate change in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.

The French president prefaced his speech to the World Economic Forum by commenting on the irony of holding a summit on globalisation in the inaccessible ski resort, which has been snow-bound much of the week.

“With this snow, it could be hard to believe in global warming,” Macron joked. “Fortunately, we did not invite anybody sceptical this year.”

In fact, US president Trump is due to address the forum on Friday – and he has repeatedly cast doubt on the scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change.

Only last month, Trump tweeted about cold weather in the US as justification for his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

Jokes aside, Macron described action on climate change as one of five “pillars” of his domestic agenda, arguing a clean transition was good for the economy.

“We have decided to make France a model in the fight against climate change,” he said. “That is, for me, a huge advantage in terms of attractiveness and competitiveness… you can create a lot of jobs in such a strategy.”

Policy measures include closing France’s remaining coal power plants by 2021 and supporting clean technology research.

One of Macron’s first acts as president was to launch an international competition for grants to pursue climate science projects in France. Out of 18 winners, 13 came from the US.

On the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement, he hosted a green finance summit. While visiting China this month, he charmed the public by learning to say his slogan “make our planet great again” in Mandarin.

France has some ground to make up after missing its 2016 emissions target by 3.6%. Ecology minister Nicolas Hulot is set to reveal policies in housing, transport and forestry at the end of the month, to bring the country’s performance in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In her speech to the forum earlier in the day, German chancellor Angela Merkel made only passing mention of climate change, describing it as “a great danger”. Instead, she focused on the importance of multilateralism to address migration, disruptive technology and populist unrest.

Merkel has come under criticism at home and abroad for appearing to give up on meeting the country’s 2020 carbon-cutting goal. Her party is in talks to form a governing coalition with the Social Democrats, who are cautious about low carbon reforms due to their ties with mining and industrial trade unions.

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