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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Response to Andrew Slight - we will help in the biofuel sustainablity study

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for replying on behalf of Sir Terry and attempting to clarify Tesco's position. However, I am still not clear on your position, and request further clarification.

Firstly, I am clearly pleased that Gary Anderson's position reflects Tesco's biofuels policy. To be clear Gary Anderson stated that "To help us and others understand the true impact of biofuels we have asked the independent Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) based at Manchester University to investigate." After Gary's email, I asked for a copy of the remit that the SCI would be working to and the timescale of deliverables. He provided neither and advised that he considered the matter closed.

I have since contacted the SCI directly (email 2nd July). They have confirmed that they have not started work as a remit cannot be agreed with your organisation and they have absolutely no timetable of deliverables. See my blog for a copy of the correspondence. As per my previous request to Gary, please confirm when the remit will be completed and provide a copy of this. As the SCI report is to be made publically available, I am sure that you will have no problem releasing a copy of the remit.

Your statement "It is suppliers of biofuels rather than retailers that will be required to produce a sustainability report under the terms of the RSPO," implies that your organisation is washing its hands of its moral responsibility to ensure sustainability of its products. Again, I would request that you provide copies of the suitability reports that your main suppliers are obliged to produce under the RTFO legislation. I find it hard to believe that your organisation would be so negligent as to not request copies of these documents during contract negotiations. As you are probably aware from reviewing correspondence, Gary had previously confirmed that progress against sustainability commitments could be monitored and audited at any time. As you are probably aware, I have not received any. To finally settle this matter, can you confirm if any audit reports are actually available.

Furthermore, Tesco is a 25% stake holder in Greenergy. It defies belief that you did not do an environmental audit of their products at the time of the acquisition.

If you still have no sustainability documents, could you provide me contact details within your supplier organisations, so that I can contact them on your behalf. I will of course keep you copied in on any communications.

You say that when you made the commitment to biofuels, "many NGOs, and experts believed that biofuels could make a positive contribution to tackling climate change." You should also have been aware, that many NGOs and experts were also saying that biofuels would not provide an answer. They argued that it would displace food production and reduce the planets capacity to absorb CO2. It is therefore important that you engage the correct NGOs during your review to ensure that you do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Can you confirm if you are going to contact organisations such as Biofuels Watch that has specific and detailed expertise on the impact of biofuels and Oxfam that has been highlighting the human rights violations as a consequence of biofuels.

In response to your request for me to send further information on the impacts of biofuels that would help you decide, I would be delighted to oblige. However, you should first try any of the main institutions of the world, such as the United Nations, the World Food Programme, etc. You can also do a Google search on the subject. If this still fails, my colleges and I, who are planning to visit your headquarters, would be delighted to meet with yourselves to press our case and present the compelling scientific evidence that you request. Unlike the £25m SCI study, we will do this at no charge to yourselves, thereby guaranteeing independence.

Kevin Lister
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