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South Pole raises undisclosed amount from ‘largest shareholders’ including Temasek’s GenZero

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho • 5 min read
South Pole raises undisclosed amount from ‘largest shareholders’ including Temasek’s GenZero
Former HSBC executive Daniel Klier will join South Pole as CEO in May, taking over from interim CEO John Davis. Photo: Bloomberg
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Swiss carbon finance consultancy South Pole has raised an undisclosed amount in a new investment round, with participation from “its largest shareholders” including Temasek subsidiary GenZero, Swiss family office Corisol and London-headquartered investor Lightrock.

In an April 25 statement, South Pole says the additional capital will “support and accelerate the pace of change and innovation already happening within South Pole”. The company says it is preparing for the “next phase of development in carbon markets and corporate climate action”.

South Pole announced in February 2022 that Temasek had taken a minority stake “via its carbon solutions platform”. In June 2022, this was revealed to be GenZero. 

Lightrock was set up in February 2021 by LGT, the international private banking and asset management group owned by the princely House of Liechtenstein.

Former HSBC executive Daniel Klier will join South Pole as CEO in May, taking over from interim CEO John Davis. Klier joins from sustainability data and technology platform ESG Book. He was previously global head of sustainable finance and group head of strategy at HSBC, where he established the bank’s net-zero target. 

Davis, South Pole’s commercial director for Asia Pacific, took on the temporary role in November 2023 after co-founder Renat Heuberger stepped down as CEO two weeks after the company terminated its contract with Carbon Green Investments, which owned and developed the now-controversial Kariba carbon offset project in Zimbabwe.

See also: South Pole, GenZero launch Asia Centre of Carbon Excellence in Singapore with EDB suppo

Klier says this is a “critical juncture” for South Pole, climate action and the carbon markets. “South Pole has pioneered many climate innovations since 2006, and this investment round is about ensuring we remain at the forefront of a maturing sector where trust and transparency are paramount.”

South Pole incoming CEO Daniel Klier

See also: Want the market to treat carbon like money? Be ready for the same scrutiny

Last year, a slew of media exposés accused carbon credit players of overstating the actual environmental impact of their products. 

In addition to terminating the contract with Carbon Green Investments, South Pole says it has established an “independent risk function” and initiated a new diligence process of the company’s project portfolio.

In January, South Pole announced the appointment of Antoine Prédour as chief risk officer. Based in Switzerland, Prédour had spent close to 12 years at impact asset manager  responsAbility Investments AG.

Former Gold Standard consultant Bamshad Houshyani was also appointed to a new role of senior director, change lead risk; reporting to Prédour. Julia Storm, previously head of operations for climate investments, also joined the risk team as associate director.

Klier adds: “We are grateful for our investors’ confidence and support in our new strategic direction, which involves numerous internal changes to leadership, processes, systems and our operating model. We have been doing this to ensure trust and transparency remain at the core of our company’s next chapter, and importantly so we can continue to have a positive climate impact at scale.”

South Pole claims it serves over 1,000 clients globally, and has helped channel climate finance to over 850 projects in more than 50 countries. According to the company, these projects have helped reduce over 200 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions, accelerated low-carbon transformations across several sectors and provided measurable benefits to communities vulnerable to climate change.

Singapore ties

See also: Are carbon credits credible?

Earlier this month, South Pole partnered GenZero to launch the Asia Centre of Carbon Excellence (ACCE) in Singapore. Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), ACCE will focus on novel projects in the region.

South Pole interim CEO John Davis

In the near term, these projects include the early decommissioning of coal-fired power plants (CFPPs), fostering the development of green hydrogen and green ammonia and helping governments and businesses understand the compliance carbon markets. 

Unveiled on the sidelines of Temasek’s Ecosperity Week 2024 on April 17, ACCE will collaborate with regional corporations and governments to explore opportunities for carbon project development, both in Asia and globally.

At COP28 in December 2023, GenZero launched its inaugural whitepaper to address common “misconceptions” around carbon markets and highlight ways to drive climate mitigation at scale.

Davis spoke on a panel alongside GenZero CEO Frederick Teo at the COP28 Singapore Pavilion in Dubai, where he urged governments to support the voluntary carbon markets.

In response to an audience question then about whether the voluntary carbon markets would benefit from a floor price, Davis said a “well-functioning market” should not require one. “We’ve had ups and downs; we’ve seen these curves. I think what we’re about now [is] building where the carbon market needs to be going, and that has to include much bigger investment from governments”.

The financial players are “ready to go”, and the “mechanisms” of the carbon markets are in place, he added. “You will see prices absolutely move in the right direction; I’m very positive about that. The question is getting the market operating correctly.”

Photos: South Pole, GenZero

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