South Pole combines local commitment for sustainable development in emerging and developing countries with solutions for global climate change.
Focus: Environment, Technology
Geographic Area of Impact: Global
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 100 employees; 10,000 locals
Annual Budget: US$ 28.6 million (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 100%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Switzerland, 2011
Climate change is among the biggest challenges the world faces today, and one that causes the poorest people to suffer the most. Although various states committed to a reduction of greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol, global leaders have thus far failed to agree on a new, binding deal to cut emissions. In this context, South Pole is committed to providing market-based and private sector solutions to help address the problem.
Innovation and Activities
South Pole creates solutions in the fields of climate change and renewable energies. By providing access to finance through international carbon markets, the company has enabled over 250 projects worldwide, ranging from renewable energy to waste treatment and forestry, thereby reducing millions of tonnes of CO2 and creating thousands of jobs. Tradable “carbon credits”, each representing one tonne of reduced CO2, are the main product of the company.
South Pole has a large client base consisting of states and large companies in Europe. These clients buy carbon credits from South Pole because it guarantees the certificates originate from projects that not only save CO2, but also have a positive impact on the community. South Pole sells about half of its carbon credits to governments who are obliged by the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions, and the other half to companies who voluntarily finance such projects.
South Pole has successfully launched other innovative products like the Climate Credit Card accounts for emissions. These are linked to consumers’ credit card purchases, and offset purchases with investments in emissions reduction projects. Another is the “carbon screener”, the first and only application on the Bloomberg Terminal that allows investors and asset managers to calculate the carbon footprint of every investable company around the world. South Pole has also launched Gold Power, the first global renewable energy label.
Renat Heuberger co-founded South Pole with four friends. As the Chief Executive Officer of the company, he has overseen its growth to more than 100 experts and 11 locations worldwide, as well as the acquisition of Climate Friendly, Australia’s largest carbon company. Private sector solutions to sustainability issues have always been at the centre of Heuberger’s professional life. During a year in Jakarta, he learned the importance of socially and environmentally sustainable development, and its necessity for the peaceful coexistence of future generations. As a consequence he chose an education in environmental studies and spent another year in Indonesia working for a development organization. Upon returning, he and colleagues founded "myclimate", which allowed private citizens to offset their own CO2 emissions. South Pole now scales the concept of "myclimate" by focusing on solutions for states and large companies.
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