French President Emmanuel Macron told Congress Wednesday he’s positive that the United States will return to the Paris Agreement on climate change, after spending several cordial days with President Trump.
Speaking to a joint meeting of Congress, Macron emphasized the importance and history of the Franco-American alliance, which dates to the American Revolution. He expressed pride that both nations still uphold many of the same values and safeguard liberty by fighting terrorism. The main topic of his discussions with Trump was the pact to freeze Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. president has threatened to scrap but France wants to keep in force.
But as he wraps up a three-day visit to Washington, Macron also hinted at his profound disagreement with Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. from the international accord to limit the increase in average global temperature to less than 2°C during this century.
“What is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet while sacrificing the future of our children? What is the meaning of our life if our decision, our confused decision, is to reduce the opportunities for our children or grandchildren?” he said.
“By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity, we are killing our planet. Let’s face it. There is no Planet B,” Macron said, to extended applause.
Representatives of 196 countries negotiated the climate agreement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Macron’s capital. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump aligned himself with the oil and gas industry, dismissed climate change as a hoax and vowed to remove the U.S. from the Paris Agreement if elected.
On June 1, 2017, Trump followed through on that promise and announced that he was beginning that process. However, under the agreement, a nation cannot submit its withdrawal until three years after it enters into force for that party — which was Nov. 4, 2016, for the U.S. Therefore, Trump needs to wait until Nov. 4, 2019, to formally request the nation’s removal. It would become official on Nov. 4, 2020.
During his speech to Congress, in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, Macron said, “Let us work together in order to make our planet great again and create new jobs and new opportunities while safeguarding our Earth.”
Last December, Macron awarded eighteen American climate scientists “Make Our Planet Great Again” grants worth millions of euros to relocate to France for the rest of Trump’s term.
Macron acknowledged this disagreement between the U.S. and France before Congress, but said that these are bound to happen “in all families.” He said the current disparity in the nations’ directions on environmental concerns is only short-term.
“We will have to face the same realities and we’re citizens of the same planet, so we will have to face it,” he said. “And I’m sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris Agreement. And I’m sure we can work together to fulfill with you the ambitions of the global compact on the environment.”