Audit of the CO2 emissions trading systems
Report ID: 47

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.


Audit of national parks
Report ID: 48

The cooperative audit of national parks was performed in 2013–2014 and involved the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine. The report builds on the seven individual national audit reports.

The main objectives of the cooperative audit were:

  • to assess if national parks are managed appropriately;
  • to address the challenges regarding the conservation and protection of biodiversity in national parks;
  • to evaluate whether public funds are being spent in the best way, allowing the goals of national parks to be achieved.

The audit results show that national parks in most of the participating countries are, in general, performing their functions and working towards achieving the goals set by their respective governments. The countries have employed different models of governance to national parks, but they all need an appropriate management plan as a precondition for the administration of each national park; this is in order to have specific guidelines for their work and for the conservation of nature and use of the national parks. The audit shows that not all authorities ensure that their national parks have a management plan. The involvement of local stakeholders in the management of national parks can give the national parks more legitimacy.

There is a potential conflict of interests between the use of national parks and the protection of nature against threats to the national parks. The public authorities are responsible for the management and protection of national parks for future generations.

The audit shows that the majority of funds allocated to national parks come from the state budgets of the respective countries. Some national parks depend on other sources of income as well. Raising additional income may be in conflict with the protection and conservation of nature.

Report on implementation of the NATURA 2000 NETWORK in Europe
Report ID: 50

Characteristics of the Natura 2000 network

Natura 2000 is an EU wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive.
As stated in the European Commission strategy to protect Europe's most important wildlife areas, the aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It comprises Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive, and Special Protection Areas (SPA) designated under the 1979 Birds Directive.

The establishment of protected areas also fulfils a Community obligation under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

The selection of Natura 2000 sites is based exclusively on scientific criteria, such as the size and density of populations of target species and the ecological quality and area of target habitat types present on the site.

The Directive does not lay down rules regarding the consultation process to be followed in selecting the
sites. This is for Member States to determine.

The directives do not say how much land and marine areas are to be included in Natura 2000 network. This will depend on the biological richness of the different regions. If, for example, a Member State is particularly rich in specific species and habitats, it is expected to designate sites in proportion to this wealth of biodiversity.

Although the establishment of Natura 2000 is not yet complete, an area equivalent to more than 15% of EU territory has now been proposed for conservation under the network.

Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves where all human activities are excluded. Human activities can continue on Natura 2000 sites, provided the future management is compatible with the objectives of biodiversity protection.

New activities or developments within Natura 2000 sites are not prohibited a priori, but are to be judged on a case by case basis. Procedure is defined in the Habitats Directive for assessment and subsequent decisions relating to development proposals that are likely to have an impact on designated sites.

Member States must ensure full compliance with the legal requirements of Natura 2000, regardless of whether they are in receipt of structural funds. However, it is particularly important to ensure compliance in situations that involve Community funded programmes.

In the light of this concern the Commission has already informed Member States that failure to present lists of Natura 2000 sites could result in the suspension of payments under certain structural funds programmes.

The threat of suspension of payments from such programmes was a precautionary measure to ensure that
Community funded programmes would not contribute to irreparable damage to sites before they have been officially proposed for protection under Natura 2000 policy.

Coordinated International Audit on Climate Change Key Implications for Governments and their Auditors (UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol)
Report ID: 53

Scientific research suggests that climate change has the potential to affect ecosystems, water resources, food production, human health, infrastructure, and energy systems, among other things. Scientific evidence from around the world suggests that climate change has already affected natural and human environments.
Countries around the world have identified climate change as a pressing worldwide issue by adopting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. They are collectively and individually taking actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the current and potential impacts of climate change. Substantial sums of money have been spent to date and will be spent in future to address this issue.

Supreme audit institutions (SAIs) play a major role in auditing government accounts and operations. They have different mandates but share a common responsibility to provide legislatures and their citizens with the
information they need to hold governments accountable for prudent financial management, and to varying degrees for compliance with domestic laws and international agreements, policy implementation, and program performance. The work of SAIs is independent, non‐political, and fact‐based, with the aim of promoting effective management and good governance within government.

Effectiveness of measures for improving the status of Lake Peipus
Report ID: 54

The National Audit Office of Estonia audited whether the state is aware of the sources of pollution influencing the status of Lake Peipus and whether the measures implemented for the protection of the lake have helped to reduce the pollution load and will ensure the good status of Lake Peipus by 2015.

According to the NAO the current activity of the Estonian state does not ensure the reduction of the pollution load of Lake Peipus so that it would help to achieve the lake’s good status by the year 2015 to meet the requirements of the European Union, or by the next deadline in 2021.