India's Tata Steel and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) are among the major firms that have joined the "caring for climate" initiative of UN Global Compact, the group's Executive Director Georg Kell announced in Singapore on Wednesday.
The head of the group that handles the interface between the UN and the private sector told the media at the B4E (Business for the Environment) summit that about 150 of the Global 500 companies were now part of the initiative.
"The companies realise that this is the greatest challenge of our times and handling it must becomes an integral part of corporate strategy," Kell said.
"Climate change is both a risk and an opportunity for business. It's a regulatory risk and a branding risk.
With 11 more companies joining the initiative here Wednesday, the "caring for climate" initiative now has 230 business participants.
Kell expected that they would become the "voice of business to create a conducive atmosphere for international negotiations that would see a global treaty" to tackle climate change once the current period of the Kyoto Protocol ran out in 2012.
The initiative is essentially a forum where firms can learn how others are planning to cope with climate change, a phenomenon caused by greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the atmosphere. It is already affecting farm output, causing more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and raising the sea level.
"Climate change will leave winners and losers. When you start preparing for it may determine the winner. That's why firms are taking steps already," Kell said.