03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Business America Lights a Candle for Copenhagen

"You can either light a candle or curse the darkness." That old saying is finding new relevance in our responses to climate change. There is still debate as to whether climate change is a natural occurrence or a man-made phenomenon. The real answer is, "Who cares?" It's happening and we have to deal with it if we want to live on a healthier planet.

There are many in the corporate realm who "get it" -- that's why they're finding new and innovative ways to combat climate change. Some do it for public relations outreach, while others are driven by a straight profit motive. If profits are an incentive to make this a better place, then here's hoping they go right ahead and make as much as they can for their shareholders. Many corporations already see the writing on the wall in regard to future legislation and realize that they'd better move into the new reality instead of finding left in the dust by their competitors. Major corporations have joined the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) which, according to its website, "is a group of businesses and leading environmental organizations that have come together to call on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions." These firms include ALCOA, BP America, Caterpillar, Dupont, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Honeywell, PepsiCo, and Shell, among others.

Other organizations are also uniting corporate and planetary needs. We Can Lead's mantra is "Competing by Leading." Its 150 members include Levi Strauss, Starbucks, Applied Materials, Duke Energy, NRG and Symantec. This group recently sent a letter to President Obama lauding his upcoming trip to Copenhagen. Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, is quoted in the group's letter as saying, "I applaud President Obama's travel to Copenhagen, demonstrating the United States' commitment to action on climate change. His presence will help ensure a successful outcome at the global climate talks, driving new investment, strengthening our global economic recovery, and moving us forward in building a productive, competitive economy here at home. The rules that Congress is developing will complement Copenhagen's global road map, supporting our business objectives to provide clean, efficient, affordable and reliable energy to our customers."

In essence, corporate America is taking a deep breath and quickly taking the steps necessary to support a brighter, safer, and cleaner future.

Jonathan A. Schein
is the publisher of and