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10 Nov 2023

South Pole announces senior leadership change

Press Release
South Pole

Zurich, 10 November, 2023: South Pole today announces that its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Renat Heuberger, is stepping down with immediate effect. He will be replaced by John Davis, South Pole's Commercial Director, Asia-Pacific, as Interim CEO.

On 27 October 2023, South Pole announced it is determined to learn from the experience of working with the Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe. At the core of this commitment is a focus on enhancing its group-wide quality and risk controls, and due diligence processes.

The Board of South Pole believes this exercise will be best delivered by new senior leadership, with the required experience to design and implement a comprehensive program of review, change and governance and process improvements, while also improving stakeholder engagement, trust and communication.

The interim and incoming leadership will receive full Board support for their program of change, which includes enhancing quality assurance standards across South Pole's projects globally. They will also appoint a Chief Risk Officer to oversee executive-level risk management, conduct a thorough review of the company's carbon project portfolio, and seek expert external support to enhance project design, operation, and management.

To that end, the following changes will be effected immediately:

  • Renat Heuberger will stand down as CEO to be replaced by John Davis as Interim CEO.
  • Christoph Grobbel will cease his executive roles to fully focus as a Non-Executive Chairman on supporting the company through the transition.
  • Renat Heuberger will take on a Non-Executive and advisory role to support the interim and incoming leadership.
  • Cornelius Walter will be appointed Non-Executive Vice Chairman, to support the strengthening of South Pole's governance, risk and quality assurance processes.

The Board, through its Nomination Committee, has begun a process to identify the best long-term candidate for the role of CEO, who can lead South Pole on its continued mission to be a global leader in providing climate solutions and a pioneer in decarbonization strategies for both the public and private sectors.

Christoph Grobbel, Non-Executive Chairman at South Pole, commented: “This is a transitional moment in the company's journey, necessitating the introduction of new, experienced, and professional leadership to strengthen and ensure consistency across its governance, risk and quality controls globally. These changes are crucial as we drive the company forward into its next chapter, providing the reassurance our stakeholders require."

“The Board expresses its gratitude to Mr Heuberger for his leadership in building a global business that delivers positive climate impact. We look forward to drawing upon his expertise in an advisory capacity as we prepare the new leadership team for future success."

Renat Heuberger, Senior Advisor at South Pole, commented: “South Pole has grown from operating out of a lab to one of the world's largest platforms for climate action, operating in 42 locations across 6 continents. It has been my life's privilege to have helped build this stellar team united by a drive to deliver scalable positive climate impact."

Mr Heuberger continued: “I look forward to supporting John, the interim and incoming leadership as they further South Pole's mission and I wish them every success in their new posts."

John Davis, Interim CEO at South Pole, commented: “South Pole recognises its responsibility not only to meet industry standards but also to lead in the development of world-class risk and quality assurance systems, particularly within the emerging carbon market. These changes in senior leadership reflect this commitment. You can expect to hear more from our organisation on this topic and about other concrete measures reflecting this commitment in the coming weeks and months."

Mr Davis added: "This is a challenging period for both the carbon markets and our company. Nevertheless, at our core, we firmly believe that the professionals at South Pole, spanning our world-leading consulting division and our pioneering projects division, can play a pivotal role in advancing positive climate action and striving for net-zero emissions. Ensuring integrity and quality in our work, and rebuilding our clients' trust will be at the forefront of our objectives and we express our gratitude to our clients as well as employees for their ongoing support. We commit to learning from this moment, enabling us to do more and do better in the future."


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Notes to editors:

John Davis, Interim CEO

John Davis is South Pole's Commercial Director for Asia Pacific, and has been with the company for eight years. During his initial four years in London, he played a pivotal role in leading and expanding the Sustainable Finance Team. His achievements include successfully scaling and selling South Pole's CNI business to ISS and establishing and developing the company's commercial teams in both New York and Singapore. Currently based in South Pole's Sydney office, John is responsible for running the APAC business and is an active member of the company's Executive Committee. His extensive experience in the environmental markets, accumulated prior to joining South Pole, spans over a decade, including roles at Spectron, an energy brokerage firm, and CF Partners, an energy and environmental trading company, where he contributed to building and managing the environmental trading desk.

About South Pole

South Pole is a leading climate project developer and solutions provider.

Since its founding in 2006, South Pole has supported and provided climate finance to over 850 projects in more than 50 countries. Together, these projects have helped reduce over 200 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions and provided measurable benefits to communities vulnerable to climate change. South Pole's projects accelerate the transformation across all sectors, including across sustainable land-use, ecosystem conservation, circular economy, and renewable energy.

South Pole also advises governments and thousands of leading companies on their climate journeys to achieve net zero emissions. With its global Climate Solutions platform, it implements comprehensive strategies that help organisations across the world build resilience and turn climate action into long-term business opportunities. Our global team of over 1,000 experts is trusted by many FT500 businesses and world-class investors around the world.

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