France to build polar research vessel as Macron sounds warning on melting glaciers

President Emmanuel Macron said Friday France will build an ice-capable vessel as part of a billion-euro plan to boost polar research. 

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Addressing a conference on the polar regions and glaciers, he urged world powers to act in the face of the climate emergency despite raging geopolitical tensions.

He said mankind faced a “civilisational” challenge and called for “an unprecedented level of cooperation” despite the “resurgence of geopolitical tensions”.

He spoke on the final day of the One Planet-Polar summit, a conference he called to address the climate emergency. Russia, a major Arctic nation, was not invited over its invasion of Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine “has weakened cooperation with major geopolitical and scientific powers”, Macron said, in a clear reference to Russia.

“Despite all these tensions, it’s clear that we must act, and make the poles and glaciers privileged spaces for peace, scientific and environmental cooperation”, Macron added.

Based between the French territory of New Caledonia and Australia, the new ship will divide its time between the Western Pacific and Antarctica, he said.

The vessel will bear the name of Michel Rocard, a former prime minister and ambassador for international negotiations over the Arctic and Antarctic who died in 2016, Macron said.

France plans to invest a billion euros ($1.1 billion) in polar research by 2030, Macron said.

In particular, the country will finance two major initiatives in the North and South Poles, including a Polar Pod expedition by a zero-emission vessel to explore the Southern Ocean which surrounds Antarctica.

France will also rebuild its scientific station in Antarctica called the Dumont d’Urville Station from 2026 and will work to renovate the Franco-Italian Concordia station, Macron said.

He also said Paris would closely coordinate with its European partners on a major research project in East Antarctica.


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