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French presidential candidate to U.S. scientists afraid of Trump: ‘Come to France’

Demonstrators gather for a rally in solidarity with the Women's March in Washington at the Place de Trocadero in Paris, one day after the inauguration of President Trump. (Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)
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Emmanuel Macron, France's liberal former economy minister and a leading candidate for president, has a message for U.S. climate researchers who are worried about the fate of their research under President Trump: “Please, come to France, you are welcome."

In a video posted on Twitter and Facebook on Thursday, Macron contrasted his commitment to fighting global warming with the U.S. president's skepticism. Trump has said that “nobody really knows" whether climate change is real, and last month he met with William Happer, a Princeton physicist who argues that climate change may be good for the world. The new administration and GOP-led Congress have also proposed policies perceived as attempts to stifle government scientists.

“I do know how your new president now has decided to jeopardize your budget, your initiatives, as he is extremely skeptical of climate change," Macron said. “I have no doubt about climate change, and how committed we have to be regarding this issue."

Macron labeled his tweet with the hashtag #ScienceMarch — presumably to get the attention of the more than 800,000 people who say they plan to attend a rally in Washington or satellite marches in April to advocate for science.

The same hashtag was appended to a video from a campaign rally Saturday, when Macron told “researchers, academics and companies in the United States fighting obscurantism and who are afraid today … you now have a new homeland: France." The declaration was met with a long round of cheers, applause and waving of French and European Union flags.

Macron may get an opportunity to make good on his promise. A recent poll placed him second among the crowded field of presidential candidates, according to Reuters. If he does make it to the second round of voting, a two-way runoff scheduled for May 7, he would beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen with 66 percent of the vote, the poll found.

Macron is the most progressive of the front-runners in the presidential race. A cabinet member for former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls, he left the government last year to start his own party, En Marche! The party's platform is strongly pro-European and includes a commitment to developing renewable energy.

But it might take more than that to entice American scientists to leave their labs in the United States. As Science magazine pointed out, French spending on research is less than that in the United States, and French researchers frequently take to the streets to protest budget cuts and bureaucratic obstacles.

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