by Gregg LaBar

October 12, 2009

As the seasons have changed from summer into fall, the battle over climate change is heating up and building to a potential tipping point by the end of the year.

The congressional debate over the Waxman-Markey energy bill continues, and the UN Climate Change Conference will be held December 7-18 in Copenhagen. (See “Hey, World Leader! See You in Copenhagen” article by documentary filmmaker Gabriel London in the Huffington Post.) In the lead-up, during and after the UN conference, no other issue, even health care reform, will garner as much national and global attention.

The preliminary International Day of Climate Action is scheduled for October 24. It’s sponsored by a new activist group,, which is so-named because it believes carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere should be limited to 350 parts per million (the group claims the world is currently at 385.92 ppm and rising).

So, get ready, because, by December, most companies of any significant size will have been asked more than once where they stand on climate change – Do you believe it’s a real problem? What are you doing to address emissions? What impact would new regulations have on your business? How are you handling the increased scrutiny? With whom are you partnering?

The questions may come from employees, the board, your customers, your supply chain, community groups, the media, etc. Preparation in developing your point of view and message points is critical, even if you have no intention of picking a fight or being proactive. Communicating with employees, your board and key customers is a great place to start.

Business leaders who want to try to follow the debate should be familiar with the following groups’ initiatives: U.S. Chamber of CommerceBusiness RoundtableNational Association of ManufacturersEnergyCitizens.orgCeresNatural Resources Defense CouncilClean Economy Network, various trade associations, and so on. Check out the variety on these sites, and it is clear that business is far from united on this issue. No endorsements implied here – just sharing some known, active resources for business leaders. Please feel free to recommend others in the comments below.

Of course, there are thousands more groups – local, national and international – that have been activated by the climate change debate. Over the next couple of months, virtually all of us will be engaged at some level. It will be interesting to see who is ready, who is caught off guard, and what happens as a result.

By the way, whether you agree with them or not, what business groups do you think are having the most impact on the climate change debate?