The world is not on track to limit global warming to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels. Singapore is particularly concerned about this lack of progress. As a low-elevation island with 120 miles of coastline, Singapore is vulnerable to rising sea levels and is warming at twice the global average. Its climate change adaptation plan entails spending $72 billion on seawalls, drainage systems, food and water security, cooling, and more. But rather than wait for the worst, Singapore hopes to prevent it by investing in decarbonization. And with a population of 5.7 million, it knows full well it can’t invent everything.
In June 2022, Singapore’s sovereign investment fund Temasek—which had a portfolio valued at USD288 billion as of March 2022—launched GenZero, the world’s largest climate tech fund with $3.6 billion in backing. At the SOSV Climate Tech Summit (Oct. 25-26), GenZero’s CEO Frederick Teo discussed how his team plans to accelerate progress towards net-zero emissions. Below, you’ll find the video playback of Teo’s conversation with TechCrunch senior reporter Catherine Shu.
Before GenZero, Teo spent 12 years leading Temasek’s sustainability initiatives. These included Climate Impact X, a global marketplace and exchange for carbon credits (now a GenZero partner), and a project to retrofit Singapore’s Tampines town center with distributed district cooling, a low-emissions approach to air conditioning (AC in tropical Singapore is both a must-have and energy hog).
GenZero is larger than the next biggest climate funds including Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures ($2.2B) and Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund ($2B). On top of that, Temasek already runs Decarbonization Partners, a $1B joint venture with BlackRock focused on late-stage climate tech. What, besides more capital, will GenZero bring to the table?
Unlike traditional VC firms that operate on ten-year horizons, GenZero thinks generationally and believes in funding decarbonization ventures with what it calls “patient capital.” How do they evaluate investment opportunities and which approaches to decarbonization have the most potential in their view?
TechCrunch senior reporter Catherine Shu, who covers startups in Asia, interviewed Teo about GenZero’s plans to decarbonize the planet.
Frederick Teo is Chief Executive of GenZero. In this role, he oversees the direction of the company and leads the execution of strategies to achieve both climate impact and sustainable long-term financial returns. Prior to his appointment at GenZero, Fred held various leadership positions in Sustainability, Portfolio Management and Business Continuity Management in his 12 years at Temasek International.
Catherine Shu has covered startups in Asia and breaking news for TechCrunch since 2012. Her reporting has also appeared in the New York Times, the Taipei Times, Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal and the Village Voice. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.