Ho Ching: Divesting emitters does nothing to help the world decarbonise & is not the right thing to do

In her last public speech as the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Ho also called for greater government action, especially by the top five emitters.

Zi Shan Kow | October 02, 2021, 12:51 AM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/mothershipsg

In her speech on Sep. 30, Ho Ching put a spotlight on the disparity in emissions between developed and developing nations.

Ho was speaking at the closing ceremony of the three-day-long Ecosperity event, an annual sustainability conference hosted by Temasek Holdings, a day before stepping down as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Temasek Holdings on Oct. 1.

Top emitters

Addressing the current climate emergency, Ho asked, "Do you know, the top five emitters account for 60 per cent of our global CO2 emissions?"

"Just China and US together account for 40 per cent of global emissions.

China leads at 27 per cent, over a quarter of the global emissions. This is followed by the US at 13 per cent. [...]

Since 2005, the EU has cut its emissions by a creditable 30 per cent – a big credit to them – this is followed by the US at 12 per cent.

But China's emissions over the same period grew by over 60 per cent, while India's more than doubled."

Ho called for greater government action, especially by the top five emitters.

On Sep. 22, China became the first developing country to pledge that it will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.

Urgency of the climate crisis

In her speech, Ho highlighted the climate emergency that we are facing.

With current policies and practices, she said that "we are heading for an increase of 1.5°C by 2040."

"This is less than 20 years away. At this rate, we will fail to cap the average global surface temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees by 2050."

"We're getting there faster than we should," she warned.

Ho urged investors, businesses, and societies to work together to avert the rise in temperature.

Investing in emitters who want to reduce their carbon footprints

Ho also shared that Temasek has decided not to divest emitters "just to tick the box".

The team believes that divesting "does nothing to help the world decarbonise, and it isn’t the right thing to do".

Rather, she said that Temasek is ready to "do the hard work" of working with, and investing in "emitters who commit to a clear transition pathway for carbon reduction".

It was not an easy decision to make and the team had "debated" before making this decision.

Ho also mentioned the Decarbonization Partners initiative with fund giant BlackRock as an example of how Temasek has been working on solutions for a zero carbon economy by 2050.

Together with investment bank HSBC, Temasek has also set up a new debt financing platform to fund sustainable infrastructure projects.

Ho urged businesses to view climate action as a form of investment opportunity which will uplift returns in years to come.

On a more positive note, Ho also pointed out how more companies are interested in taking climate action these days as compared to a decade before.

She highlighted how shareholders and investors of companies as well as younger staff and prospective employees are pushing for change.

Inclusive prosperity for people

In her speech, Ho said that human prosperity is deeply intertwined with a clean and green environment.

She also provided two suggestions for an "inclusive prosperity that can sustain planet and people".

"The first is to foster a learning culture as part of work life, and the second is to help our workforce prepare for retirement or life after work and beyond work," she said.

Related stories

Top image by Temasek.