Auditing and Accreditation in Carbon Accounting - A Current Assessment and Recommendations for Harmonization

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



This master’s project adds to the body of knowledge on the status of auditing and accreditation in carbon accounting. It addresses three questions regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting (carbon accounting) and auditing: (1) What is the current status of GHG auditing globally?, (2) What are some of the key challenges in auditing?, and (3) Is there an expressed need for greater harmonization, and if so, what are the main obstacles to harmonization and how can they be overcome? To answer these questions two separate surveys were deployed, one to auditors who conduct the review of GHG assertions and a second to accreditation bodies who oversee the quality of work performed by the auditors.

Survey results support existing research which suggests that certification standards for sustainability reporting are increasingly being promulgated and adopted by organizations across the world. Certification standards frequently require that an organization undergo an audit. The results of these surveys show an increase in demand for the services of audit bodies and a growth in the development of accreditation programs to oversee the competence and impartiality of the audit bodies. Results also show that there are challenges associated with this growth. The key challenge cited by audit bodies is complying with the multitude of GHG reporting requirements as well as multiple accreditation requirements. One audit body may be required to understand and apply many GHG auditing standards and may also be required to maintain a different accreditation for each standard. Accreditation bodies expressed (1) the need for greater harmonization and (2) the importance of training on GHG reporting and auditing.

Recommendations on how to facilitate this harmonization include increased dialog on this subject within existing international forums; training, guidance and case studies to facilitate common understanding on the subject; and the development of Multilateral Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) of accreditation providers. Harmonization is essential in successfully linking regional and national climate change programs such that one ton of carbon measured in one country is the same as one ton of carbon measured in another.





Bowles, Ann (2012). Auditing and Accreditation in Carbon Accounting - A Current Assessment and Recommendations for Harmonization. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.