French President Emmanuel Macron is using his personal relationship with Donald Trump to encourage the beleaguered American leader to be more flexible. Macron also tackled climate change, fake news and some other contentious issues in his address to Congress.
The unlikely relationship between these two men is surprising, to say the least. Macron is a centrist who is diplomatic and eloquent in two languages. Trump has far right tendencies bordering on fascism. At his best Trump has been described as inarticulate at his worst incoherent.
The ruling governments of France and the US are a study in contrasts. France is a global climate leader, a champion of renewable energy and a sustainability leader. Last year the French government announced that by 2040 they will ban fossil fuel powered cars and cease oil and gas exploration. In September Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot said, “It will allow investors to go much further in their renewable investments.”
Under Macron France has been a model of climate action while the US under Trump has been an environmental nightmare. The Trump administration has abandoned climate action, systematically dismantled environmental protections and promoted fossil fuels.
It is not just that Macron has managed to forge close ties with Trump that is noteworthy. What makes this relationship so special is the fact that Macron has not shied away from challenging some of the defining tenets of Trump and his administration.
Macron appears to have succeeded in encouraging Trump to be more flexible in his dealings with Iran. In his address to Congress on Wednesday Macron urged the US to resist nationalism, isolationism, anger, and fear. Macron said, “We can choose isolationism, withdrawal, and nationalism … but closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world.”
Macron politely but clearly challenged Trump particularly with respect to his role as the chief purveyor of fake news and as one of the most dishonest men ever to occupy the Oval office.
Macron even spoke about Trump’s “copyright” on fake news and the need to challenge dishonesty and support the truth. In a not so veiled parallel to Russian meddling in the US election of 2016, Macron spoke of how his country was targeted by Russia during last year’s election. Macron explained that he tasked his government to draft legislation to punish purveyors of false information distributed during election campaigns. In this respect the French leader differs markedly from his American counterpart.
Macron went further defending reason and truth as a fundamental to the freedoms we enjoy. “Without reason, without truth, there is no real democracy because democracy is about true choices and rational decisions,” Macron told Congress.
Macron squarely contradicted Trump’s climate denial when he spoke about the need for climate action. He insinuated that Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate deal was a momentary lapse of judgment saying the US will one day re-join the agreement.
Quietly riffing on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” tag line, Macron appealed to Americans to, “work together in order to make our planet great again and create new jobs and new opportunities while safeguarding our earth,” adding, “there is no Planet B”.
France Shows Trump What Climate Leadership Looks Like
One Planet Summit Highlights the EU’s Climate Leadership
Vive La France! French Electorate Rejects Climate Denial and Commits to Progressive Action
France: One of the Most Sustainable Countries in the World
France Makes Sustainability Reporting Mandatory
The Problem of Food Waste is Being Addressed in France
France Curbs Vehicles and Decrees Green or Solar Roofs
Why France is a Global Climate Leader
Moving Towards 100% Renewable Energy in Europe (France)
French Support for Renewable Energy
French Energy Leadership: Nuclear, Fossil Fuels and GHGs
France Restricts Both GMOs and Cars
Obama and Hollande Call for Climate Action