People, Europe, Planet, Asia Pacific, Climate Change

Report warns investors could dump plastic producers, air polluters

Responsible Business | Feb 28, 2019

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Companies will face increased pressure to reduce air pollution, adopt circular economy models to deal with their plastic waste, disclose their exposure to climate risks and articulate long-term sustainability targets, according to a new report from consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

The company’s Environmental Risk Outlook 2019 warns that regulatory action on air pollution is likely to start taking hold, as urban authorities try to reduce the burden on human health caused by prolonged exposure to airborne particulate. The report said that crackdowns and new legislation could force companies to adapt, and warns that: “Companies operating in polluted areas don’t even need to be big contributors—just the most visible—to feel the force of regulatory measures and public disapproval.”

Businesses are also under increasing scrutiny to tackle the root causes of plastic pollution, Maplecroft said, which could drive investors to start reducing their exposure to the plastics sector.

“Investors, legislators, and consumers are scrutinising corporate waste and packaging policies like never before, putting pressure on businesses to act or face the threat of fines, boycotts or even divestment,” the report said. “Seven of the world’s 10 largest plastic producers are oil and gas companies. The sector is accustomed to shareholder divestment campaigns relating to its contribution to climate change, but consumer concern around plastic pollution could start to add more fuel to those fires in 2019—and give investors food for thought.”

Elsewhere, investors are becoming increasingly aware of the need to understand the risks that climate change presents to businesses, and the steps that are being taken to mitigate future damage, Maplecroft said.

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