Audit of the CO2 emissions trading systems

The Nordic–Baltic–Polish cooperative audit on emissions trading was performed in 2012 and involved the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden.1 The report builds on 13 individual national audit reports.

The aim of the cooperative audit was to assess:

• the effectiveness of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) in reducing national greenhouse gas emissions or fostering technology development
• the proper functioning of the EU ETS: national registries, greenhouse gas emissions permits and emissions reporting
• the implementation and administration of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) programmes.

There are clear indications from the cooperative audit that the emissions limitation targets adopted in the Kyoto Protocol or through the EU Burden Sharing Agreement are likely to be met in all seven countries by the end of the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period (end of 2012). The countries have implemented the EU ETS in line with the current EU legislation and the provisions under the UNFCCC. However, the effectiveness of the system in reducing emissions is a major challenge. For the Nordic countries the EU ETS provided little incentive for long-term reductions in CO2 emissions as allowance prices have been low due to a general surplus of allowances in the system during the period 2008–2012. Taking into account the slower economic
growth than expected, emissions trading did not provide a strong market mechanism that has raised the costs of emissions related to production and given a competitive advantage to cleaner production.

The audits for Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have shown that emissions have increased at a slower pace than economic growth. However, in this audit it has not been possible to measure whether this can be attributed to the effectiveness of the EU ETS.