Temasek launches green investment arm, pledges $5b in initial funding

GenZero, wholly owned by Temasek, aims to accelerate global efforts to cut carbon emissions and fight climate change. Image: ST PHOTO/KUA CHEE SIONG

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s investment company, Temasek, announced on Monday (June 6) the launch of a green investment firm to accelerate global efforts to cut carbon emissions and fight climate change, with an initial pledge of $5 billion.

GenZero, wholly owned by Temasek, aims to deploy long-term and flexible capital to help early-stage companies and technology solutions that need funding to grow towards commercialisation, as well as more mature opportunities that are ready to scale up.

Its investments seek to help the world achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels, key goals of the United Nations’ Paris Agreement, the world’s main climate pact.

Temasek’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard said that because decarbonisation is now a specialist investment discipline, the introduction of a platform like GenZero is well placed.

“You can be very alarmist when you talk about climate, so actually it is appropriate for us to ring the bell loudly and say it is on our watch that we have to tackle this,” said Dr Howard, adding that carbon no longer existed on the periphery of the economy but has now become internalised for most companies actively evaluating how they will transition towards net zero.

“This is not about incremental change, it is about transitioning every business and every investment decision. It has been described as the race of our lives and I really see it as that…. and we have to be the generation that leads that change.”

GenZero will be headed up by Mr Frederick Teo, who is currently managing director of sustainable solutions at Temasek International. Mr Teo will assume the role of chief executive from July 1.

Mr Teo, who has been at Temasek for nearly 12 years holding various leadership positions, said GenZero’s investments will focus on three areas.

It will fund technology-based solutions that deliver deep emissions reductions, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage and advanced biofuels; nature-based solutions that help protect and restore natural ecosystems while benefiting local communities and biodiversity; and investment in companies and solutions that support the development of an efficient and credible carbon market.

He added that while GenZero has a broader, more flexible investment mandate, the company will still be seeking sustainable returns on investments made.

“Clearly we are not going to be investing in solutions that are currently in the lab and not yet ready or if we cannot see a pathway to climate impact,” Mr Teo said.

“We are also looking at solutions that have the potential to scale, because if there is something that works really great but cannot be deployed at scale, it will not be able to create the kind of climate impact that we seek to achieve.”

Author: Luke Pachymuthu, Senior Correspondent