Coming on the heels of the COP27 global climate conference, whose outcome was mixed, hopes are high that the UN COP15 Biodiversity Conference will make progress on a global framework with measurable targets to halt and reverse nature loss. ESG analyst Lise Tanfin highlights the dire effects of plastic pollution and discusses how investors can help address the issue.
A COP15 action plan would help ensure that the 2050 vision of ‘Living in harmony with nature’ is achieved. The meeting is also likely to see efforts to secure global support for commitments such as the target to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030. 
According to IPBES, the five biggest direct drivers of biodiversity loss are climate change, changes in how land and seas are used, natural resource use and exploitation, invasive species, and pollution. Plastic pollution is a major issue. Without large-scale action, plastic pollution is expected to triple by 2040, with single-use plastic accounting for 80%, a Planet Tracker report finds.
This has implications for natural habitats, ecosystems and human health and here we believe companies have a critical role to play. The Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty  aims to address three key areas: Curbing plastic production and consumption by adopting circular economy principles; preventing and eliminating plastic leakage into the environment; and increasing the circularity of necessary plastics.
From a solutions perspective, we believe active engagement with the biggest polluters across the supply chain is critical. Transitioning to less polluting alternatives such as bio-sourced plastics for packaging, consumer goods and textiles can offer environmental benefits including lower lifecycle emissions. 
Engaging with investors
Investors can play a large role in helping to tackle plastic pollution through investments. The UN PRI Plastics Investor Working Group, of which BNPP AM is a member, gives recommendations on integrating the transition to a circular economy into investments in a recently published paper. The first step is to identify industries with high linear material consumption and large environmental footprints and re-allocate finance to industries that prioritise circular principles.
Recently, we published our initial findings on the biodiversity footprint of our investments based on major issues including water pollution and measuring plastic entanglement. Given the large impact of plastic pollution on nature and human health, we believe ESG data providers must include more plastic-specific data points. This should help investors to understand the risks associated with their investments more clearly.
More broadly, investors should engage with stakeholders to tackle barriers to a circular economy. Food retailing is one industry that could benefit substantially since nearly 85% of plastic packaging waste ends up in landfills or as unregulated waste. Investors can push for faster progress through proxy votes. For instance, this January, we supported a resolution calling on a company to cut plastic waste to zero by 2030 and disclose how it will meet its sustainability targets to shareholders.
At this point,forecasts for reductions in plastic consumption foresee minimal changes before 2025, according to a Planet Tracker prospective study. Corporate progress to curb plastic waste has been slow.
Achieving progress will require ambitious policies. The EU is taking steps by introducing a range of measures for all stages of the supply chain – including implementing waste-reducing design requirements, mandating labels to inform consumers of the plastic content of products and disposal options, and waste management obligations for producers.
For BNP Paribas Asset Management, knowing how companies perform when it comes to biodiversity matters. This may influence decisions on whether to invest. For that reason, we recently provided funding to CDP, the not-for-profit organisation that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, to add questions linked to nature-loss and biodiversity to their research questionnaires.
To make informed decisions and reduce our footprint, we need to know what companies do about their biodiversity-related commitments. Our partnership with CDP should help shed light on the performance of companies in our investment universes and force them to provide better and more consistent information about their biodiversity-related commitments.
 BNPP AM has joined the coalition and endorsed its Vision Statement in October 2022
 Also read Towards a binding global treaty to end plastic pollution
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