Emmanuel Macron interview with Jeff Glor -- full transcript

JEFF GLOR: I was struck by something you said, that "This battle is, shouldn't be defensive." What does that mean?

PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: Hello. And thanks very much for this appointment. First of all, let me start by saying a few words for your country and and for what happened today in the U.S., because it seems that we had a terrorist attack or an attempt at least. I believe there is -- I mean, nobody died it seems at this stage, but I wanted to convey my feelings and all my solidarity to your people and your president. Switching from ... the news of the day to our news of the day, which is about climate change, indeed, I'm interested in the fact that what people want today is to choose the future. And not to be in a certain we're the victim of different changes.

When we speak about climate change, you're a victim of something ... which is happening with deep roots where you don't have -- anything to deal with. And people just want to choose a life. That's very much important. And I think one of the key elements of the collective battle we have today, in order to fight against climate change is to provide people the ability to choose a life. To have a better life by behaving differently, by innovating, by creating new type of companies and startups, new type of activities.

And -- and this change will mean destroying all jobs ... I would quote, "activities," but by creating new ones. And it's very much important for political leaders just to change our mindset ... and not to say, "If you want to fight against climate change, it's automatically bad news for your people and your economy." It's totally different. It could be bringing a lot of good news, if you just help people to change and allow them to choose a life.

GLOR: President Trump says, "It's bad news because it's bad for the American workers, bad for American people." Do you think that's fair?

MACRON: I disagree with that. I disagree with that. First of all, because it's bad for everybody, because we know now the consequences of climate change. I mean, it's bad for everybody. It's bad for you today due to the consequences in terms of hurricanes in terms of [floods], in terms of direct consequences on the Arctic region. Because today you have islands which starts disappearing. So you have current negative consequences in dealing directly with workers in the rest of the world.

What does it mean ... what it wants to say expressing this -- this point, it's bad for American workers, is just to say, "I will have to close old plants, coal activities and all this stuff." I mean, it's true. You will have to switch from a model to another one. But I mean, it's understandable not to deal with reality and what we know.

So I think our responsibility as leaders today, as political leaders is to push our economic leaders to change their investment behavior, to decide new things, and to help workers to change their jobs. And I think the mistake that -- that you're making, I mean, that your president decided to make is exactly the mistake we made in France and in Europe -- I mean, the first phase of globalization.

Which was to resist to the change in order to protect the old jobs. What we have to protect is people, not jobs. If you want to protect people, you retrain them. You help them in order to change their jobs to new ones much more adaptive and consistent with our commitments and our collective interests.

GLOR: But you think there has to be pain before progress?

MACRON: I mean, I think that you'll have billions and billions all over the globe. I mean, today we're full of liquidity in money. And what you have to do is to convince big money to change the mindset and reinvest in these new activities to accelerate this change and create new jobs.

GLOR: So that's the other part of it. You think that most of the money has to come from the private sector, not just the public sector?

MACRON: I mean, both, but when, you know, when you speak about public money, you speak about taxpayer's money. And -- and I'm very [unintelligible] with that. If I commit myself with money, I do so. And we will commit tomorrow at the One Planet Summit to increase, for instance, our financing in terms of conditions. That's one thing.

But on top of the public financing by governments, which is very much important -- and that's an important point, you have to convince banks, insurance, ... will fund ... and I mean a lot of people in the private sector to invest and to commit themselves for large tickets on this green activities and this green economy. And it's feasible. Why? First of all, because it makes sense. And a lot of people just want to invest in something which makes sense. Second, because it's more on more with good returns.

When you look at solar energy, when you look at also wind energy, you have very good returns now. I mean, it's in price, so which means that they can invest and have pretty good return. Third, because you can help to develop a lot of countries and a lot of regions. And when you look at the total cost of our inability to deal with climate change and access to energy in Sahel, in Sahara, in a lot of regions, the total cost of our lack of action or our mistakes is much higher than the one, the, I mean, the money we have to invest right now.

GLOR: Why do you think the president pulled outta this?

MACRON: I think it took-- I mean, I do respect your president. First of all, he was elected by you guys. And as the president of the American people. And second, he took a commitment during his campaign. I [have had a] lot of discussion with him. We have a very good personal relationship.

GLOR: Tell me about that.

MACRON: No, but we have direct discussions and each time I take a decision or he takes a decision, we have a direct phone call. And I do respect him. And I think he has a very strong view in terms of security. And we are very strong allies and we work very closely together in Middle East and in order to fight against terrorism.

But we didn't agree on two to three issues, and the very first one was on climate. And what it told me is that I took a commitment vis-à-vis my voters. And I told them it was not good for the U.S. and especially the U.S. workers. I tried to convince them. I do believe that on the mid- to long-run it's not true. And I do believe it's important to have on board the U.S. government.

But I do respect [Mr. Trump], and I do respect his decision. So, I'm not saying, he doesn't understand and doesn't share the analysis. But just he took a political commitment. In the meanwhile, we are gathering a lot of your cities with the C40 funded by Mike Bloomberg. We are gathering a lot of regions and a lot of American states with the R20 and a lot of initiatives. And we are gathering the private sector with a lot of investors and the U.S. investors.

And when I add all these commitments, I match the ... commitments ... after Paris agreement. And it was very much important for me to show that the U.S. is here. It's not because of the decision of the president that the U.S. stops its efforts.

GLOR: This $2.3 billion. How do you make that up?

MACRON:  For the U.S. part?

GLOR: Uh-huh.

MACRON: Cities, states, private sector. I want to change the-- the rule of the green (unintelligible), because today it's just a law to-- to governments to contribute. I want your private sectors, your cities and your states to contribute to this fund as well, so you can match it with-- I mean the rest of the U.S., which is not the federal government.

And it's totally feasible, because I want to see how your private sector, how your cities, and especially the C-40, how a lot of your states-- and Governor Brown, for instance, made-- a great job, are deeply committed to fight against climate change. So at the end of the day, the U.S. is here.

GLOR: How much has the withdrawal affected your efforts?

MACRON: I think the withdrawal, to be totally fair with you, created a huge momentum to me to create a counter-momentum. I launched the same day of the announcement of the-- President Trump's decision to leave-- Paris Agreement, I took an initiative called Make Our Planet Great Again.

This initiative is delivering. Now, we just-- we just decided to-- grant a series of some loans, and commitments to dozens of-- researchers coming from the youth, mainly (unintelligible) for India, from Canada and so on, because they answer to this call.

Second, it creates a huge mobilization of a lot of countries saying, "I do confirm." And you had, right at-- the U.S. announcement, an acceleration of the ratification process in a lot of countries. And third, it allows us to take a leadership of a deep, private commitment, and the One Planet Summit, organized in Paris the 12th of December-- is for me this momentum to gather all this initiative.

We will announce 12 big initiatives. For instance, one on Caribbean with a big commitment on Caribbean organization. And it does concern, by the way, the U.S. With a deep commitment on Africa, with new financing. With-- which is brand new. A deep commitment from the Sovereign Fund. So we have a lot of very strong initiatives around the seven.

GLOR: So just so I'm understanding: You say you're in better shape now because of this withdrawal. That the president--

MACRON: I think today--

GLOR: --did you a favor?

MACRON: We have a momentum, because I think we have two phenomenon. So withdraw of the U.S., which for me is a mistake, that equates an impulse for a lot of others to say, "OK, we have to react and do something, because it's impossible to leave this all to-- a sort of dismantling of the Paris Agreement."

Second, a deep wakeup call for the private sectors and some of us to say, "Wow, so we have to react." Otherwise, that it will become a little bit shaky. But in the same time, the Chinese commitment to remain in Paris Agreement and be more and more dedicated to climate ch-- and-- and-- and all of the (unintelligible) the relevant answers to climate change, the deep commitment of some others created a pretty good momentum.

But today, to be totally direct with you, today we are not at a rendezvous. Today we have, honestly, a big issue in general, but it's not directly due to the U.S. decision. We are not delivering in line with the Paris Agreement. And-- and the increase of the average temperature is plus 3.5 degrees instead of plus 1.5 degrees, which was the initial commitment.

So we have-- on top of it, and beyond the U.S. decision, we have to accelerate. We have to commitment ourselves. We have to make big change in our product-- I mean our way to produce, our way to organize ourselves, our way to invest. And-- and I just want to pass this (unintelligible) to your people, which is say, just think one second that if we decide not to decide, if we decide not to move and not change our way to produce, to invest, to behave, de facto we decide, you decide to condemn billions of people in the coming decades.

That's a big decision. And we will-- I mean we-- all of us will be judged for that. All-- all of us. So we have to react-- right now, because we know, it's-- it will be impossible in 20, 30 years to explain, "Ah, we are sorry. We were not aware that we had to change." No. We do know that if we don't change, if we don't react, we will be responsible for billions of victims.

I don't want to be a leader in such a situation, so let's act right now. Let's invest on green technologies. Let's change our business model. Let's behave differently. Let's move differently. Let's take all the cars. Let's change our mindset, our way to proceed, precisely because that's our responsibility.

GLOR: He says he's open to renegotiation.

MACRON: You know, you have more than 190 countries as negotiators. I-- I'm not ready to renegotiate with so many people, I'm sorry, around the table. I mean (unintelligible) negotiated. There is-- a classical Latin formula in international rules say-- saying, "pacta sunt servanda", when you sign a treaty, you have to respect it.

The U.S. is a great government, is a great country. The U.S. did sign the Paris Agreement. It's extremely aggressive to decide on its own just to leave, and no way to push the others to renegotiate because one decided to leave the-- the floor. I'm sorry to say that. It doesn't fly. So sorry, but I think it's a big responsibility in front of history, and I'm-- I-- I'm pretty sure that my friend President Trump will change his mind in the coming months or years. I do hope.

GLOR: You think he'll change his mind?

MACRON: Yes, I mean my-- I'm not ready to renegotiate, but I'm-- I'm ready to welcome him if he decides to come back.

GLOR: How often do you speak to President Trump?

MACRON: Look. As often as we need. For instance, during the past weeks, we had probably three to four phone calls together. It's very easy, as soon as he asks for a call, I call him back and exactly the same on his side. We have very fluent and open discussions.

GLOR: And you would characterize that relationship as friendly?

MACRON: Yes, very direct.

GLOR: You talked about Jerusalem?

MACRON: Yes, exactly.

GLOR: Before.

MACRON: Yes.

GLOR: And he said what?

MACRON: He said that probably he will announce the fact that he wanted to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and transfer the [embassy] ... I mean, all this, the American services -- in Jerusalem.

GLOR: And you told him what?

MACRON: I told him, I thought it was a mistake. I told him I thought that the issue is not this one. I told him that it's not compliant with these international rules. Because we decided internationally that it's not the case. Why? Because we work and we've worked all together on the recognition of two states, Israel and Palestine -- with borders recognized by the international community. And that such a unilateral decision is not compliant with our international discussions and our international rules and will not facilitate a peace process. Because that's a unilateral decision, and that's pretty much humiliating for the Palestinian side.

GLOR: Was that was that a calm conversation? Was that a confrontational conversation?

MACRON: I think it's always an open and direct discussion. You can agree to disagree. Which is the case between us on some issues. I mean, he told me the rationale of his decision, which was to create a new momentum to pushing to change the whole system, because he considers, which is true that the old negotiation is blocked for this and has been blocked for decades.

And he wanted to create a momentum of strong reaction due to this announcement. I told him that for me, it's not the right announcement to create a new momentum and new process at this moment. But at the end of the day, you decide for your own. And he decided for the U.S. I decided for France, which is normal.

GLOR: In your estimation, does it jeopardize the peace process?

MACRON: I think, I mean, first of all, I do call for peace and calm. And you saw some reactions and very aggressive reactions first of all against Israel. And I'm a strong ally of Israel. And we're very much concerned by peace and security for Israel. So I have this call for peace and calm. Because I don't want that the potential consequences of this announcement could be to jeopardize the security of Israel because of the reaction of some people in the region.

Second, I am very careful about the reaction in the whole region. In Lebanon, in Israel, in Palestine, in Jordan, in all the different countries, where you have a lot of Palestinian refugees and where this obviously, the situation is very sensitive. So my first obsession I would see and my first concern is to preserve peace and calm in the whole region.

And I think if we have any victims or big trouble, it could jeopardize for a long, pretty long time any peace process or any initiative. Second, I think we have to discuss with all the parties and try to find a way out. But obviously, the reaction of the Palestinians will not be very positive. They are not in a good mood to progress towards any peace process.

GLOR: You've inserted yourself into a lot of these conflicts in a rather fast fashion. What do you see as your role in Europe and the globe as a whole?

MACRON: Look, I think our role is largely to try to build peace. And to preserve a (unintelligible) approach. When you look at the situation today, you have some rogue states. You have a lot of destabilization in the whole planet in different regions, a lot of tensions.

What we learn from the past is that you cannot make peace against people by interfering and-- and just launching a war and trying to change a regime without any political solution. So my role is first to avoid any war and try to-- to frame the discussion in order to create peace and have a comprehensive peace process and preserve (unintelligible ) and especially in this Middle East region. That's what I tried to do in Lebanon, for instance, by negotiating both with M.B.S., with the Lebanese government. And I, at the end of the day, we found a pretty good solution for everybody by preserving the stability of-- the leb-- Lebanese government, by preserving the integrity of Lebanon, and by putting more neutrality from all the Lebanese parties towards the other conflicts of the region. That's typically for me the role that we can play in the region and more broadly.

The second role we have to play, and that's the very close decision we have with the U.S., is to fight against terrorism and the roots of terrorism. And that's our place in the international coalition in Syria and Iraq and alongside with the U.S. And that's our role in Sahel, in Sahara, because I have 4,500 people on the ground in this region fighting against the terrorists and helping the African governments to fight against the terrorists.

GLOR: How concerned are you about terrorism in Africa?

MACRON: I'm very much concerned-- I'm very much concerned because you have a very-- very strong push coming from the jihadists in the whole region. You have Boko Haram in Nigeria and the-- Lake Chad region. You have in Sahel and Sahara now all these new movements coagula-- I mean, they are coagulating and they're very much active from Mali South of Algeria till Libya. And you have a lot of destabilization both in Libya and Somalia. And we have to be very careful.

So we need first a very deft action to dismantle these groups, to dismantle these terrorists and all the-- all the traffics directly linked to terrorists. Human trafficking, drugs, and arms trafficking. And second, you have a big issue in terms of stability and political stability. We have to fix the situation in Libya.

That's one of our top priorites, because as long as you don't have a stable government in Libya, it's very hard to fix the situation. And third, you need development. You need education. You need more investment to develop those countries, because the jihadists and all these terrorist groups manage to progress when precisely you have poverty, you have no hope, and you have such a situation.

And by the way, climate change is directly linked to the situation. For instance, in the Lake Chad region, you have a lot of poverty due to climate change. And the fact that you have, for instance, fishermen, and their jobs were killed by the shrinking of the lake.

GLOR: Are you more concerned about climate or terrorism?

MACRON: Look, it'sm I mean, obviously security is my very first and-- my-- my top priority. On the-- on the very short run, I have nothing more important than fighting against terrorism, killing these terrorist groups and-- and-- suppressing those activities, and fighting against all the different tools of the terrorists, i.e., the silencing of these terrorist groups (papers noise) and the related activities of these terrorists.

Climate change is very important and climate is-- is-- is a deep commitment. But it's totally different. But as I told you, both of them are inter-correlated. Because in some regions if you don't manage basically to deal with the consequences of climate change, you increase the place of terrorist-- potential terrorist activities.

GLOR: These-- the smaller scale attacks like the one that happened in New York City today, they've happened in France as well, how do you prevent those?

MACRON:  You prevent them by increasing your intelligence. Your-- by increasing your cooperation with-- with all the regions where they can come from, for-- both in Europe, in Middle East, and Africa. So we includes a lot of our cooperation exchange of information and so on.

Second, by increasing your intelligence on your own country. Why? Because you have a lot of un-- under (unintelligible)-- terrorism now. You have a lot of people who had grew up-- grown up-- in your country, educated in your country, and suddenly becoming terrorists. Because of the influence of-- the propaganda on internet, and because of their life, and something-- something suddenly happens.

It's impossible to go to some-- I mean zero risk. That's impossible, because it's just-- one, people in the street which (snapping) suddenly can totally change his mind and become crazy. And he has a lot of (unintelligible) and (unintelligible) activities. But you have-- you can reduce if you invest on more intelligence, more interception to prevent this-- this type of behavior.

You can prevent them if you are-- if we are much more-- aggressive, I would say, in-- in order to reduce the propaganda of the jihadists and the terrorists on the net. That's why we need more commitment coming from the-- the internet players, and that's one of the (unintelligible) we want to-- to increase in Europe in the case, and I think that the U.S. do need the same.

And you need the counter-propaganda. And more than that, you have to help your people to find a place in your society, because it's very rare to have wealthy people becoming suddenly terrorists. I mean most of the time, we speak about people without any hope, without any perspective in the society, will suddenly decide for any reason to become a terrorist or a jihadist. So on the mid-run (?), on top of that, if you want to prevent this kind of-- behavior, you have as well to better take care of your people, and-- and help them to find a place in your society.