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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 :

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

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Biofuel movie for Sir Terry

Dear Sir Terry,

To remind you, I still have not recieved a copy of a sustainablity report for your biofuels and will be pursuing this under the freedom of information act, especially as this is supposed to be a publically available document.

In case your organisation is having trouble writing such a document, I hope that you will take the time to watch the movie available at this address:

I hope that we will be able to discuss it when we come down to your offices in the near future.

Kevin Lister

Monday, June 09, 2008

Freedom of Information request for Tesco Biofuel Sustainability Report

Dear Matthew,

Further to the statement in the letter you sent which stated the Department of Transport's requires biofuels suppliers to "report on greenhouse gas savings and wider sustainability," I am formally requesting that your department provides copies of the available reports on greenhouse gas savings and wider sustainability associated with biofuels from transport fuel suppliers under the freedom of information act.

As Tesco have claimed to be the biggest supplier of biofuels and with aspirations to double the amount sold, (see extracts from their environmental statement or here), I would at first like you to provide copies of the Tesco biofuel sustainability reports. I have previously asked for copies of the sustainability reports which Tesco has said can be audited at any time to be provided, but received nothing from them.

This email will be forwarded to Tesco, my local MP, a hard copy will be sent to the Deptartment of Transport, and it will appear on my blog.

Kevin Lister

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Can we see a biofuel sustainablity report??

Dear Sir Terry,

As you are hopefully aware, your Scott MacKay sent an email saying that Tescos were washing their hands of moral culpability in the provision of biofuel as it was now government policy and he apologised for any inconvenience that Tesco was causing. In response to this I sent a further letter to the Ruth Kelly to ask her position on the sustainability of biofuels.

Ruth Kelly's office has replied. In their response they stated "All transport fuel suppliers will be required to report on the greenhouse gas savings and wider sustainability." I therefore would be grateful if you could send me a copy of your sustainability report that the government obliges you to prepare. If you not prepared to do this, I will seek a copy of this under the Freedom of Information Act . Furthermore if you have no report, I and a number of my colleagues will come to your offices to speak directly with yourself on the subject.

As regards the wider sustainability aspect of your report, I would also be grateful if you can ensure that it addresses how biofuels will enable reversal of the increasing rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, when the fundemental proposition is to burn the planet's lungs. See the graph below which is sourced from data on the
NOAA web site.

As usual, a copy of this email will appear on my blog.

I look forward to your reply,

Kevin Lister

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Response from Ruth Kelly Office

Matthew Griffin
Aviation Environmental Division 1
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
Zone 1/22
London SW1P4DR
direct line: 020 7944 4874
minicom: 011517
fax: 020 7944 2192
GTN NO: 3533 4874

Web Site: Our Ref: APE 12/5/2 23 May 2008

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for your further letter of 17 April to the Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly, about aviation and environmental issues. Your letter has been passed to me and I have been asked to reply.

Firstly, with regard to biofuels. The demand for biofuels is only one factor affecting food prices. The smaller harvests of 2006 and higher production costs due to increased fertiliser costs have also contributed. The Government will ask the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) to monitor how markets are affected by growing biofuel demand and we expect that the RFA will include an assessment of these effects in its annual report to Parliament. The UK Government will continue to gather evidence on the impacts of biofuel use to help ensure that targets are set at appropriate levels.

In the longer term, second generation biofuel technologies have the potential to reduce pressure on land because they can use a wider range of feedstocks, including waste.

On 21 February the Government announced a review, led by the RFA, of the emerging evidence on the indirect impacts of biofuel production, and what these mean for future biofuel policies and targets. The review will look at the wider environmental and economic impacts and will also take into account evidence concerning food security issues. An initial analysis will be provided to Ministers as soon as possible, with a full report to follow in late June. The review should help to ensure that we have the right evidence base to support decisions on the future of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) scheme and longer-term targets.

In the absence of agreed international standards on the sustainability of biofuels, the Government has incorporated sustainability safeguards into the RTFO. All transport fuel suppliers will be required to report on the greenhouse gas savings and wider sustainability impacts associated with their biofuels in order to claim any credit for them under the RTFO.

We have also made clear that our agreement to future EU biofuel targets is conditional on our being satisfied that they can be met sustainably. We will be negotiating hard over the months ahead to ensure that the relevant EU legislation requires all biofuels to meet robust, mandatory sustainability standards. We have set stretching targets to demonstrate the level of performance that we expect from transport fuel suppliers in this area.

We will be asking the RFA to report regularly on the impacts of the policy, and on the performance of different transport fuel suppliers against the targets. We want this process to be as open and transparent as possible, and further information can be obtained via the RFA's website at

With regard to the other points you raise, I will respond as you set them out in your letter.

Point 1 - We have not ignored the IPCC report. The UK has acknowledged that climate change is the biggest single issue that we face and we are taking action. However, we must acknowledge that the UK can not act alone in tackling climate change which is why we are taking the lead both in proposing our Climate Change Bill which will enshrine domestic emissions reductions in UK law, and in leading for tough targets in the post-Kyoto process. That is not to say we shouldn't take action now and in fact we are doing so.

With particular reference to aviation, the UK has a comprehensive strategy which is in line with the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change and promotes the use of economic instruments, alongside investment in research and development and removal of barriers to behavioural change.

As set out in the previous letter, the UK supports a truly global solution for an international industry such as aviation. However progress on a global scale has been slow and therefore the UK supports the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme as the key priority.
In terms of investment in research and development both governments and industry have a role to play, and work on this has been in place for several years for example the UK Government has been involved in the EU-led QUANTIFY project and the establishment of the OMEGA knowledge transfer network. More recently the Commission launched the joint Clean Sky Technology Initiative worth €1.6bn over seven years. This investment has been alongside improvements which have made the operations of both airports and airlines more efficient, for example where possible aircraft, use the Continuous Descent Approach when landing which can save about 1% of total fuel per aircraft.

Point 2 - As explained before, emissions from international aviation are not included in the targets of the Climate Change Bill as there is currently no agreement on how to allocate these international emissions to national inventories. The Bill does, however, cover CO2 emissions from domestic flights.

The Climate Change Bill includes provisions which would enable Ministers to include international aviation emissions in UK totals in the event of developments in international carbon reporting practices for the sector. The UK Government is not discounting or ignoring these international emissions. The fact that emissions from international aviation are not included in the draft Climate Change Bill does not mean that we are not taking action to tackle the climate change impacts of aviation. As stated above, such a truly international industry like aviation requires a global solution and we are pressing internationally through both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for this. We will also ask the new independent Committee on Climate Change to look at the implications of including international aviation in the UK's targets, as part of its overall report on the UK's 2050 target.

The Future of Air Transport White Paper sets out our commitment to ensuring that aviation reflects the full costs of its climate change emissions and highlights that the most efficient way of doing this is through a well-designed, international emissions trading scheme.

Point 3 - This would be a matter for the Home Office. For further information on policing, you may wish to contact them directly.

Point 4 - The additional 1,300 carriages announced in last year's rail white paper for the period 2009 - 2014 are estimated to result in a direct increase in annual rail CO2 emissions of 117,000 tonnes. This is only partially offset by a fall of 15,000 tonnes in car CO2 emissions from travellers switching to rail.

The Committee on Climate Change has been tasked with advising the Government on future 5 year carbon budgets. Their advice is expected by the end of 2008. To help inform the Government's response to these recommendations, this department is currently analysing how the carbon emissions of different transport modes including rail are likely to change in the period up to 2022. Part of this process involves considering the implications for diesel and electricity consumption (including how the power generating mix is expected to change over time, for example through an increased use of renewables). As this work is still underway, we are unable to provide any detailed figures at present.

Point 5 - It is not Government policy to reduce demand. The White Paper recognises that while simply building more and more capacity to meet demand would not be a sustainable way forward, there is a need for some additional airport capacity so that the economic and social benefits of air travel to the UK can be realised.

As you are aware, Government policy on aviation is set out in the Future of Air Transport White Paper. The Government has set out a sustainable way forward taking into account the social, environmental and economic factors.

Point 6 - In 2003 the Government outlined its support for a third runway at Heathrow. This was contained in the 'Future of Air Transport'White Paper. The White Paper made clear that this support is conditional on meeting strict local noise and air quality limits. It also said that scope for making greater use of the two existing runways should be explored, subject to the same environmental conditions. The consultation presents the outcome of our assessment of these options and invites views. We want our final policy decisions to be based on the full range of evidence including that from those most directly affected.

We are now analysing all the responses received during the consultation period. Following this work, advice will be prepared for ministers so that decisions can be taken on each of the consultation issues later this year. Ministers will take account of all the evidence, including responses to the consultation, in reaching final policy decisions, which are expected later in 2008.
I hope you find this helpful.
Yours sincerely

Matthew Griffin