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Monday, June 30, 2008

Biofuel damage is not Tesco's fault, it is their suppliers!!

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for your e-mails of 7 June and 26 June to Sir Terry Leahy about our policies on biofuels. I have been asked to reply on Sir Terry's behalf.

Having reviewed the previous correspondence between yourself and our Customer Services department, please let me assure you that the comprehensive replies set out by Gary Anderson reflect our biofuels policy and not the subsequent correspondence with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Scott Mackay. Please accept my apologies for this misunderstanding.

As Gary explained, we originally committed to biofuels because we believed, as did many other experts including Governments and NGOs, that biofuels could make a positive contribution to tackling climate change, and also help other challenges associated with petrol and diesel that you have mentioned on your blog such as peak oil and fuel security. The debate has become more complex and we are fully engaged in it.

In response to your specific request, it is suppliers of biofuels rather than retailers that will be required to produce a sustainability report under the terms of the RSPO. Our commitment to biofuels is based on a belief that they can play a positive role to tackle the environmental challenges posed by current transport fuels if they are sourced sustainably. For example, palm oil derived from deforested areas would clearly have a detrimental impact on the environment so the challenge that our main supplier is addressing is how we can avoid palm oil from these areas.

As with all our policies, we review regularly in the light of sound science, customer demand and our commitments to tackling environmental issues and climate change in particular. We are also engaging with environmental NGOs to improve our understanding. We welcome any new research that clarifies the impacts of biofuels and particularly welcome the Government’s review of the indirect impacts, which I understand is due to be released very soon.

In the meantime we will continue to use our own knowledge, based on the latest scientific research and our experience as a food retailer to try and ensure that in our supply chain, the ingredients in the biofuels are sourced sustainably. I believe that trying to meet this challenge is a more responsible approach than turning our backs so that we can make good decisions on the basis of sound science.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to clarify our policy so that it can be properly represented. I would also like to emphasise that we have always viewed biofuels as one of many ways to help customers and our distribution fleet manage their environmental impact. As someone who cares deeply about the environment and climate change in particular, I hope you will recognise the other work we are doing on climate change, which is detailed in our latest Corporate Responsibility report at :

http://www.tescoreports.com/crreview08/climate-env/climate-position.html.

If you have further scientific research specifically on biofuels and their sourcing that you believe will help our understanding, please send it to me.

Kind regards
Andrew Slight
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