In the past few months, the media has been dominated by one horrific story: the deep and devastating crisis that is the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, over 8 million people have fallen sick and almost half a million people have died from this awful disease. Worldwide, nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their jobs due to the economic crisis that followed the health emergency. The International Labour Organisation has called the Covid-19 crisis 'the worst since World War II' and the financial impact could be astonishing costs of over €8 trillion. This has forced governments all over the world to scramble and rescue the lives of their citizens, their health care systems, their labour markets and their economies.
These events almost made us forget that other crisis looming larger on the horizon: climate change. For years now, Earth has been under threat from an increase in global temperatures, which could have a significant impact on nature, wildlife and societies worldwide. Before the Covid-19 crisis hit, major efforts were underway to tackle the climate crisis and mitigate its potentially very disruptive effects. These efforts have ranged from energy transition, carbon pricing for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and eco-design, to waste reduction and sustainable finance. The EU's European Green Deal has been put forward as a flagship initiative to turn the tide. Covering multiple aspects, many elements of this Green Deal come at a – sometimes significant – price. At the moment, it is far from sure whether governments are willing and able to stick to their commitment made in the 2015 Paris Agreement to stop climate change, now that they are facing the deep and multi-level Covid-19 crisis .
This ECA Journal edition looks at the many initiatives that have been taken by the EU and governments so far to mitigate climate change, and sheds light on where gaps persist in a crisis that could prove to be decisive for the future of our planet and its inhabitants. It looks at the role of audit in the fight against climate change and seeks to identify the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for climate governance and climate change mitigation. It is a packed edition, investigating this 'other' global challenge from multiple perspectives.
This edition's highlights:
13 The United Nations providing scientific facts to assess climate change and its impacts through the IPCC - worth a Nobel Prize By Abdalah Mokssit, Secretary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
32 Climate action – already at the forefront of EU policy making for a decade - By Mauro Petriccione, Director-General for Climate Action (CLIMA), European Commission
37 Stepping up climate action audits…to address climate change realities - Interview with Iliana Ivanova and Nikolaos Milionis, ECA Members.
47 The European Green Deal and its climate ambitions – ECA audits providing input for action - By Joanna Kokot, Sustainable Use of Natural Resources Directorate
62 Sustainable finance, climate change and the 'tragedy of horizons' - By Katharina Bryan, private office of Eva Lindström, ECA Member
87 Combating climate change through environmental taxes – how to move forward - By Antoine Fouilleron, Cour des comptes française
101 Public auditors from around the world working together for a common sustainable future - the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing - By Vivi Niemenmaa, National Audit Office of Finland
116 The EP's ENVI Committee – being ahead of the pack for the EU's green transition - Interview with Bas Eickhout, MEP and First Vice-Chair of the ENVI Committee.
140 Hydrogen – empowering Europe for a carbon-neutral future - Interview with Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking of the European Union.
178 The EU Emission Trading System – carbon pricing as an important tool to achieve the objectives of the Green Deal By Sabine Frank, Executive Director, Carbon Market Watch
190 ECA JOURNAL LONG READ - Climate change action and the new MFF: earmarking 'climate' financing in times of the COVID-19 pandemic - By Martin Weber, Director of the Presidency
With over 40 articles on the main theme, this ECA Journal features interviews with Professor Simone Borg, University of Malta; Peter Welch, ECA Director 'Sustainable Use of Natural Resources'; Adélaïde Charlier and Anuna De Wever, climate activists of Youth for Climate; Jérémie Pichon, zero-waste lifestyle activist; Natalia Krzempek, former ECA coordinator for EMAS; Laura Burgers, specialist on climate litigation; and Joëlle Elvinger, new ECA Member.
Other views on various aspects of climate change action, including audit, are set out in articles by Charlotte Unger, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS); Louis Meuleman, Vice-chair UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration and Visiting Professor Public Governance at Leuven University; Helena Abreu Lopes, Member of the Tribunal de Contas of Portugal; Jolanta Stawska, Supreme Audit Office of Poland; Adriano Martins Juras, Carlos Eduardo Lustosa da Costa and Dashiell Velasque da Costa, Federal Court of Accounts of Brazil; Olivier Boutellis-Taft, Accountancy Europe; Grégory Claeys and Simone Tagliapietra, Bruegel; Nancy Saich, European Investment Bank (EIB); Veronica Gaffey, Regulatory Scrutiny Board of the European Commission; Markus Trilling, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe; Tassos Haniotis, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission; Giulia Christianson and Ariel Pinchot, World Resources Institute; Mats Engström, Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies; Mirjam Wolfrum, CDP Europe; João Figueiredo, Samo Jereb and Nikolaos Milionis, ECA Members; Phil Wynn Owen, former ECA Member; and Oana Dumitrescu, Frédéric Soblet, Derek Meijers, Gaston Moonen and Katarzyna Radecka Moroz, ECA.
This Journal also covers several ECA Reaching Out activities, including a message from ECA President Klaus-Heiner Lehne on our continued work as the EU's external auditor in times of crisis, plus articles on its communication activities and the upcoming ECA Award on EU added value.