Mark Carney is joining asset manager Brookfield to launch an “impact investing” fund focused on social and environmental benefits as well as financial returns, in his first big business role since his near seven-year term as Bank of England governor ended in March.
Mr Carney has long been an advocate of more activist policies on climate change. While governor of the BoE, he launched the bank’s first climate-related stress tests and he has warned about the risks of coal, oil and gas investments in a world that is trying to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Accepting the Brookfield position, he said that investment that focuses on outcomes beyond financial returns was “one of the greatest commercial opportunities of our time,” and that he was “looking forward to building on Brookfield’s leading positions in renewable energy and sustainability”.
He will combine the role with a position as United Nations special envoy for climate action and finance, an unpaid, advisory position that centres on preparations for next year’s COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.
Towards the end of his tenure as BoE governor, Mr Carney made a pitch to become the next head of the IMF, but failed to win backing from EU governments, which did not see him as sufficiently European despite his holding Irish and UK citizenship.
In an interview with the Financial Times this year, he highlighted what he saw as the limits of the private sector in tackling global warming. “I don’t think the financial sector should be or will be a substitute for climate policy,” he said.
The former British central banker is one of a long line of high-profile figures recruited to steer Brookfield, a $550bn business with investments ranging from Australian railways to French mobile phone masts and skyscrapers in London and New York.
Billionaire investor Howard Marks took a board seat this year after selling a majority stake in his Oaktree Capital to Brookfield in a $4.7bn deal.
Brookfield also recruited Ron Bloom, an adviser to the Obama administration who helped to restructure Chrysler and General Motors, and Gus O’Donnell, the former head of the UK civil service.
The group’s embrace of impact investing follows similar moves by industry leaders including Bain Capital, TPG and KKR.
Such funds have sometimes provided a berth for former public officials who still harbour political ambitions. Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, spent four years at Bain spearheading investments in “sustainable” enterprises ranging from sushi restaurants to composting companies, before quitting in 2019 to run for president.