11/24/2008 02:49 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Corporate Responsibility: How Can U.S. Economy Stay Competitive, Get Greener?

Big U.S. companies obviously want a seat at the table when it's time to draw up America's plan to fight climate change. A year after issuing its "Call for Action," the U.S. Climate Action Partnership--a group of 30-odd companies like Alcoa, GE, GM, Ford, and several environmental groups--released today the list of nine principles it wants policymakers to keep in mind when they're hammering out climate deals. But when it comes to the really tricky stuff, USCAP--like U.S. politicians so far--punted.

The main principles call for global involvement in any climate plan, and lots of carrots for developing countries. But the thorniest issue of all is left for later. That is--when countries move at different speeds to tackle climate change, it creates an uneven playing field for plenty of industries. Dirty industries penalized by restrictive legislation can move where laws are lax, killing jobs while providing no benefit to the environment.

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Read about a rare prison sentence for an environmental crime in Oregon. Is this the only way? Or will this put the U.S. economy in even more dire straits?