Benefits of environmental projects overestimated
Press Release – October 17, 2007
In accordance with the European Community legislation, the Czech Republic (CR) meets regulations related to emission limits for air pollution, climate and ozone layer protection. Only directives concerning the assessment and control of air quality have not been implemented to perfection. Within the country, levels of several pollutants happen to violate the emission limits, which may possibly lead to penalties imposed by EU on CR in the future.
These were the outcomes of an audit performed by auditors from the Supreme Audit Office (SAO) that focused on financial resources used within the field of air protection. The audited period covered years from 2003 to 2006, including associated data from the previous and the following dates. Among the audited bodies were the Ministry of the Environment (MoE), the State Environmental Fund of CR (SEFCR), the Czech Environmental Inspectorate (CEI), and several regions of the country. (See the complete list of audited bodies attached to the audit report.)
“An impact assessment of the State Policy of Environmental Protection showed a temporary slowdown of the environmental improvement process, even a stagnation or worsening in a series of accounts. This trend is affected by significant economic growth that does not promote energy and material savings,“ said František Dohnal, president of SAO.
The purpose of the National Programme for reducing the impacts of climate changes is to bring down greenhouse gas emissions as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol requires. We may assume that CR is going to reach the 1st stage objective. By 2012, CR is willing to balance all emission rates, which are unfavourable for now, with the 2000 average levels of EU countries.
Power engineering and production of electricity cause the high rate of greenhouse gas in CR. While the audit was being performed, the system of motivational fines for polluting was comment upon by the regional authorities, which administer the payments. As late as in 2006, the ministry ordered a comprehensive enquiry of the fine system efficiency, which would lead to other possible solutions.
From 2003 to 2006, SEFCR utilized over CZK 3 billion from the environmental grants. Many grant receivers did not fulfil the environment-beneficial conditions. The audit also revealed that benefits of environmental projects had been overestimated, for example, the programme for financial support of gas fuel utilization replacing the coal-fired boilers in towns. Since the vogue of gas heating has gradually diminished, it is impossible to prove evidence for the environmental benefits of the programme for the time being.
“The assessment criterions for these environmental projects possess poor corresponding capabilities. Actually, even the existing standards were not followed by a number of the grant recipients,” said Dohnal.
The auditing operation was included into the 2007 Audit Plan under No. 07/02. Zdeněk Brandt, Member of the SAO Board, controlled the operation and drew up the audit report as well.
CR – Supreme Audit Office