INTOSAI – Working Group on Environmental Auditing

Coordinated International Audit on Climate Change

The Climate is Changing - Key Implications for Governments and their Auditors  


Governments around the world acknowledge the dangers posed by climate change and point to actions they are taking in response. But are they doing what they say they are doing? Are their actions having the intended effect? Fourteen Supreme Audit Institutions, who are the external auditors of their governments, have joined in a first of a kind cooperative audit of their governments’ climate change related policies and practices. They have jointly reported, today, that there has been some progress, but that climate change remains a formidable challenge for governments to address better.
The audits found a wide variety of efforts underway across developed and developing countries and overall reported that:
  • Emission reduction targets, objectives or commitments are generally in place in countries addressed by this report but they are not always supported by comprehensive and specific national, regional or sectoral strategies and plans. Some countries’ strategies and plans are relatively short-term and are not therefore a good basis for achieving sustained success in the long-term.
  • Conflicts between programs in other areas and climate change targets, objectives, or actions have impeded effectiveness. For example, agriculture policies can undermine efforts to reduce the loss of forests.
  • Work to assess risks from climate change and plan for adaptation is at an early stage despite long-standing international commitments to plan for adaptation. Many governments have not fully completed the risk management process and started to plan for adaptation to climate change.
  • Emissions trading, Joint Implementation, and the Clean Development Mechanism, which are important policy tools under the Kyoto Protocol, have not yet led to a significant reduction in emissions. Many of the audits have highlighted the difficulties in designing and implementing emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism in some developing countries has been slow and is not yet driving the transfer of technology and funds,
  • Climate Change mitigation and adaptation require action at, and coordination between, all levels of government, but the report notes that some countries have not defined clear roles and responsibilities for the numerous national government agencies involved.


  • High-quality information on climate change efforts is important but often lacking. Evaluation of key policy choices and instruments was not always in place.
Mr Mihkel Oviir, Auditor General, Riigikontroll, Estonia and chair of the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing:
“Climate Change is already having a severe effect on some of us and is likely to increasingly disrupt our lives going forward. Governments are committed to addressing climate change; and their climate change policies, programs, and projects are highly material. But, our audits have shown that our Governments can do much better. We have brought together our findings, from Supreme Audit Institutions from 14 developed and developing countries around the world, to highlight key challenges our governments face and the unique role that Supreme Audit Institutions can play through bringing their governments to account and facilitating scrutiny of their performance by their legislatures. We hope this report will encourage more Supreme Audit Institutions to undertake such audits and lead to further improvements by our governments towards meeting the common global challenges."
Mr Terence Nombembe, Auditor-General of South Africa and host for the 2010 conference of Supreme Audit Institutions:
“Supreme Audit Institutions add value to society by being responsive to issues that affect the public since government has to address matters that affect the lives of citizens in any democracy. Climate change is one of those issues that impact all. This collaborative audit on climate change addressed one of the most fundamental areas of the 21st century that affect developed and developing countries. The audit covered the various different commitments, responsibilities and perspectives of climate change. Reports tabled in the individual countries will assist the various governments to take action and implement the necessary plans to address mitigation and adaptation issues, while the collective insight captured in this joint report will assist the world to address this topic. The collaborative audit involved 14 countries across 6 continents, which provides a platform from which even better collaborative audits can be conducted in the future.”


You can also read the Project Leader's Final Report: Process Chronicle and Lessons Learned here.