A coalition of business leaders and non-governmental environmental groups is calling on the U.S. government to push for tough legislation to address the issue of climate change. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership is urging Washington to mandate greenhouse gas emission reductions by companies. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

The U. S. Climate Action Partnership, or US-CAP, brings together executives from large companies, including General Electric, DuPont, Alcoa and Lehman Brothers and non-governmental organizations Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change and World Resources Institute.

Jonathan Lash, president of World Resources Institute, said US-CAP believes the time for action is now.

He said, "We all agree, corporate leaders from across the country and across the economy, and environmental leaders, who are passionate about the urgency about the problem, that there's a way forward that makes sense and that will work."

The group called for national legislation to require significant reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, as soon as possible.

James Rogers, chairman of Duke Energy company, said the tougher requirements would also create new business opportunities. As an example, he pointed to the continuing U.S. energy dependence on coal, which is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

"Coal supplies today over 50 percent of our current electricity generation, and will play a continuing role in our energy future," he said. "The policies US-CAP supports encourages the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage, and other advanced coal technologies."

The group's appeal comes one day before President Bush delivers his State of the Union speech.

At the White House Monday, spokesman Tony Snow said President Bush will address the issue of energy, which he called one of the foremost concerns for American people. But he indicated that the President is not likely to support US-CAP's proposals for a mandatory limit on carbon emissions.

He said, "There's been some talk about sort of binding economy-wide carbon caps in the [State of the Union] speech, but they are not part of the president's proposal."

Still, US-CAP members say they will continue to work together to push for legislation to address the climate issue.

Eileen Claussen, president of Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said the group has already been in touch with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

"The leadership in both the Senate and House has named climate change as a priority, and a number of bills have already been introduced," she said. "Today, we briefed a bipartisan group of key members of both the Senate and the House, and we hope to meet again with them and with other members to see that effective and robust climate legislation is enacted."

Claussen added that as the world's largest source of air pollution -- the United States -- has a special responsibility to address climate change issues.

"We are also the wealthiest and most technologically advanced country in the world. Solving global warming cannot be done by the U.S. alone, but it is inconceivable without U.S. leadership," said Claussen.

She said that leadership includes working with other countries to set fair and effective international standards.