Note: Paragraph 7 of this article has been updated for clarity and to provide more details of the court hearing.
2 Degrees Investing Initiative (2DII) is at loggerheads with its founder and former CEO, Stan Dupré, following a long-running spat over governance, contracts and brand ownership at the globally influential think tank.
Dupre started 2DII from his living room in Paris a decade ago with the aim of developing thinking around the private sector’s role in the transition to a low-carbon economy. He has become one of the most outspoken voices on green finance, and under his leadership 2DII became well-known for taking strong, public positions against market greenwashing.
As 2DII grew, receiving millions in funding from bodies including the French Government and the European Commission, it spun out two new legal entities in the US and Germany. Together with the Paris entity, the three are known as ‘the Network’. Dupré moved to New York to run the US entity in 2019, while Jakob Thoma moved to Berlin to head up Germany. The Paris office is run by Gabrielle Couderc.
But, following his move to the States, Dupré’s contract was updated and the proposed new terms sparked a dispute. While his remuneration remained the same under the updated contract, Dupré claims there were other changes that he objected to, including a request for him to resign as overall CEO of the Network for legal and logistical reasons.
Dupré stopped working for 2DII last summer as a result of the dispute.
However, it took until December 23 for the think tank to make an announcement on the departure, writing on its website: “The contractual relationship between Stanislas Dupré and the network has come to an end, due to disagreements that could not be resolved.”
Documents seen by RI indicate that Dupré has been granted a hearing by a French court next Thursday, February 4. The hearing relates to his accusation that 2DII's board has been "operating irregularly", in violation of the organisation's articles of incorporation. A judge could potentially appoint a temporary director to replace the current board as a result.
In its December statement, 2DII noted Dupré had launched a commercial entity called 2° Investing’ Ventures, but distanced itself from it: “In order to avoid any ambiguity, we would like to inform you that ‘2° Investing’ Ventures is neither legally affiliated nor formally supported or approved by the 2DII network,” it said.
Despite the distancing, Dupré’s new venture lists 2DII as one of its “up and running ventures” along with a number of 2DII’s spin off initiatives: PACTA, Asset Resolution and Finance Clim’Act.
In a statement to RI, Dupré said he owned the trademarks for ‘2° Investing Initiative’ and its logo in a personal capacity, having registered them back in 2012. Likewise, Dupré said he owned the trademark for Asset Resolution in his personal capacity. More recently, in June last year, he registered PACTA under his name.
In response, 2DII made the following statement to RI: “The names and brands ‘2° Investing Initiative’, PACTA, Asset Resolution as well as MeinFairMӧgen (MyFairMoney) continue to be owned by and inseparable from the 2DII network”.
2DII declined to comment on whether it was planning to take legal action over the issue, but did say that it was considering changing its name – a move it said was not prompted by the current dispute and Dupré’s departure.
“The 2DII network has been engaged in strategic reorganisation for over a year now, including considering a potential rebrand” it told RI, adding that it had not made a decision on a name change yet.
The name 2 Degrees Investing Initiative was coined when 2℃ was the globally accepted climate goal. Since then, thinking has developed to put that figure at “well below 1.5 degrees” instead.