Rachel Donald writes:

“I’m not lecturing people. I’m trying to help people to reconcile development and climate change,” said Emmanuel Macron at a press conference in Papua New Guinea on July 28. The French President’s inaugural visit to the nation was part of his Indo-Pacific tour, as he jetted around the resource-rich and cash-poor nations to talk of “a third way” France could offer to countries stuck between global superpowers. After signing bilateral agreements with PNG promoting economic and cultural exchange between the two nations, Macron spoke of sustainable development “brother to brother” in his speech at an event to promote the Managalas Plateau, a conservation project France is allegedly investing €100 million in.

Upstairs from the conservation event, the main room in Port Moresby’s Apec House was filled to the brim with politicians, state officials—and fossil fuel executives. Macron had timed his visit to coincide with TotalEnergies final investment decision on a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) project they’ve been exploring in Papua New Guinea for the past 5 years. TotalEnergies, the French energy giant, is pouring no less than $10 billion into the joint venture, of which they own 41% and will develop. France’s purported conservation pledge pales in comparison. Indeed, a TotalEnergies’ executive, unaware he was speaking to a journalist, told me the company was irritated that Macron had decided to gatecrash their decision day: “Coinciding it with a conservation event? It doesn’t look very good for us.”

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