L.A. Times business columnist James Flanigan has joined the ever-growing chorus asserting that Kyoto can — even will — be good for industry.  

“Global warming is suddenly looking like a hot business opportunity,” he writes.  “The funny thing is nobody seems to fear the Kyoto Protocol anymore. In fact, some might even get rich off it.”He cites corporate examples that are well-known in green-biz circles but probably not amongst normal folks:

DuPont Co., for example, has curtailed carbon emissions from its plants in the United States and around the world by 67% since the Kyoto treaty came along. Far from penalizing its operations, the company says, these reductions have made DuPont’s factories more efficient and “positioned our businesses for the marketplace of 20 to 50 years from now.”

Those facing the greatest challenge, of course, are electric power generators. But they too are stepping up to today’s realities.

Take American Electric Power Co. The utility giant recently unveiled plans to build a $1.6-billion plant that will use a process called coal gasification. The facility will turn coal into synthetic gas before burning it, sharply reducing emissions including carbon dioxide.

Coal gasification isn’t cheap, particularly when compared with the conventional coal-fired approach to power generation. Yet AEP says it has little choice when it looks long term.

“Our challenge,” says AEP Chairman Michael Morris, “is to build a power plant that takes into account … environmental prospects over a 30-year life.”

The nonprofit Pew Center on Global Climate Change has played a key role in rallying Dupont, AEP, and other American corporate behemoths to the cause of climate salvation.  Consider that drastic emissions reductions by a company as massive as DuPont could make as much or more of a difference for the planet as reductions by, oh, say, quite a few of the nations in Bush’s Coalition of the Willing.