Can Macron Pressure Trump to Stay in the Paris Climate Agreement?

Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Trogneux posed during a lunch break as part of a campaign visit in Bagneres de Bigorre, in the Pyrenees mountain, France. Reuters

Emmanuel Macron had a fiery message pointed at President Donald Trump before he cruised to victory in France’s elections Sunday night against far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen: Stay in the international Paris Climate agreement, COP21, or lose your best and brightest American innovators for years to come.

Then-candidate Macron posted a video to Twitter in February, the same day hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens marched in Washington D.C. and several other cities protesting Trump’s lax policies toward climate change research and prevention. Speaking entirely in English, Macron criticized Trump’s belief that climate change is a hoax, and his administration’s threats to cut funding for science research and studies on the impact of global warming.

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"I do know how your new president now has decided to jeopardize your budget, your initiatives, as he is extremely skeptical about climate change. I have no doubt about climate change, and about how committed we have to be regarding this issue," Macron said, speaking to those attending the science march in the states. "Please, come to France. You are welcome. It's your nation. We like innovation. We want innovative people. We want people working on climate change, energy renewables and new technologies. France is your nation."

The French president elect also vowed to preserve the budgets for science and energy research if elected and would reinforce that funding to "accelerate our initiative in order to deliver in live with COP21."

Trump, who has previously said climate change is a "hoax" and vowed to renegotiate the historic COP21 agreement involving nearly 195 nations globally, may find himself in a difficult position. He also said the Paris agreement was "bad for U.S. businesses" and that it gives "foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use."

The French president-elect stands firmly behind the deal which was struck under former President Barack Obama; however, Trump could withdraw the U.S. from the agreement entirely. Without America's involvement in the initiative, COP21 will have no way of meeting its goals of reducing global net carbon emissions. 

RTS13FJZ People walking past Trump International Hotel and Tower during the Earth Day 'March For Science NYC' demonstration to coincide with similar marches globally in Manhattan, New York, April 22, 2017. Reuters

But several other promises Trump made along the 2016 presidential campaign trail have fallen by the wayside, from his vow to build a "big, beautiful wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border, to repealing and replacing Obama’s landmark health care initiative immediately upon taking office (the Senate will reportedly scrap Congress’ healthcare overhaul legislation and write its own, a process that could reportedly take years).

If Macron is successful in pressuring Trump to stay in the Paris climate agreement, it could mark his first major success as a global politician fighting to restore centrist international values amid a rise of nationalism and far-right conservatism. And it may not be entirely impossible: it reportedly took just one phone call conversation between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the president for Trump to reconsider withdrawing entirely for NAFTA, another international agreement signed into law prior to his tenure in the Oval Office.