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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A group of 500 businesses and nonprofit executives on Tuesday urged global governments to take action on climate change, saying failure to do so would result in catastrophe for the planet and global markets.
"If there is no global agreement then we will lose valuable time and opportunity to ... mitigate the potential disastrous consequences of climate change," Zhengrong Shi, the chairman and CEO of Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, China's top maker of solar power panels, told reporters.
The U.N. Leadership Forum on Climate Change discussed ways to help deal with the worst consequences of global warming as part of a top-level U.N. meeting on the issue held on Tuesday.
U.S. power utility Duke Energy and oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were also participants in the group.
World leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao tried to speed up U.N. climate talks at the one-day summit, but proposals did little to break a deadlock on how to share burdens of action on climate change.
Some 190 countries will try to hammer out a new pact on climate change in Copenhagen in December to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
"Failure to find agreement would result in trade tensions and competitive distortions that not only threaten the foundations of our global economy, but also any future advances in sustainable economic and social development," the group said in a release.
The business leaders said a governmental framework on climate change would boost investments in projects to cut emissions, such as wind and solar farms, and in ways for countries to adapt to heat waves and rising seas.
Some companies have been criticized for participating in agreements seeking to push governments to take action on climate while taking only small steps of their own.
Barbara Krumsiek, the president and CEO of Calvert Investments, which offers mutual funds that invest in socially responsible companies, defended broad business agreements on climate. She said excluding companies from the debate would remove "a robust business presence" that helps contribute to finding solutions to global warming.
Robert Orr, an aide to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, said businesses are an integral component in the fight against global warming.
"Just like we need all governments to be part of the solution to climate change, we also need the collective private sector around the world," he said.
Orr said 40 percent of the companies in the leadership forum had logged their climate actions on the Carbon Disclosure Project, which asks the world's biggest companies to publicly list their risks on climate change.
Additional reporting by Haitham Haddadin; Editing by Christian Wiessner