The company’s green fund was announced alongside record annual profits of over £2.2 billion in 2005.

In a statement the company said it would use the cash to install wind turbines at some of its new stores as well as solar technologies, combined heat and power, trigeneration and even geothermal.

Tesco believes the fund will allow it to halve the levels of CO2 emissions it was producing in 2000 by 2010.

But the move has been dismissed as a ‘greenwash’ by lobbyists, who point out the investment is a tiny fraction of its profits and it will have to do better if it wants to win accolades from environmentalists.

Friends of the Earth gave the fund a cautious welcome, but said the company had work to do it was serious about greening its operations.

Friends of the Earth Supermarket Campaigner Sandra Bell said: “It is welcome news that any company is taking action to tackle its carbon emissions, but Tesco still has a long way to go.

“If it is to make a genuine contribution to tackling climate change, Tesco would have to make more fundamental changes to the way it does business. There is no commitment here to source more food locally, instead of flying it in from around the world and trucking it unecessarily up and down the country.

“Tesco is still a long way from being a truly green company. Given its rapid growth, its commitment to sourcing cheap food, and the threat it poses to independent retailers, it is hard to see how it is ever going to get there.”

The environmental group added that shoppers wishing to reduce the environmental impact of their grocery shopping should do their shopping at local shops and farmers markets instead of supermarkets.

While the Tesco fund may not have won over the NGOs it has impressed politicians.

The Liberal Democrat spokesman on the environment, Chris Huhne MP said the amount committed by the supermarket was double the £50 million the Government had allocated to micro generation in its budget.

“We always stand ready to criticise major corporations when they act inappropriately,” he said.

“Therefore we should be prepared to welcome positive moves such as this.

“If this initiative does result in more sustainable practices then it is exactly the sort of innovative business thinking that we need to push the green agenda forward.”

Sam Bond

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