Bulgaria's Climate Coalition criticises decision to prolong coal plants' life

Only rapid decarbonization through fast introduction of renewable energy sources will help Bulgaria retain its leading position in the energy sector in the Balkans. This is the response of the Climate Coalition in Bulgaria to the sudden urge of decision makers in favour of continued carbon power gemeration in Bulgaria. BlueLink supported and helped co-ordinate the Coalition's stand.

On January 12, 2023, Bulgaria's National Assembly almost unanimously decided that the government should renegotiate an aleady agreed commitment, as part of the country's National Recovery and Reseilence Plan (NRRP): to reduce 40% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, based on 2019 levels. All Bulgarian coal power plants should remain in operation without any restrictions until 2038, the Parliament decided.

A "strategic vision" has been immediately prepared by the caretaker government in Sofia, responding to these calls.  For the development of the energy sector it envisions restoring colossal, expensive and dangerous projects, abandoned in the past. Among them are new dams on the Danube and a second nuclear power plantt in the earthquake zone near Belene.

The government's "strategy" was adopted on January 17, 2023, with neither a proper public hearing nor strategic environmental impact assessment as required by law. These plans don't follow any economic logic, the Climate Coalition warned. Moreover, they are at odds with the global energy transformation process in the direction of decarbonization and decentralization. Thus, they risk isolating Bulgaria both politically and economically and turning it into a net energy importer. Greece and Romania are ahead of us with the construction of large RES capacities. Soon we will be able to import cheap electricity from them.

In the grip of oligarchic interests

It is apparent that decision makers' purpose is to secure the profits from coal power generation, which grew substantially in the course of the war in Ukraine, commented Pavel Antonov, BlueLink's co-founder and Executive Editor. These profits must be quite large if representatives from all parties, trade unions and mass media, are willing to risk 6.3 billion Euros of grants from the NRRP already negotiated with the European Commission in April 2022, he said.

In the next 5 years, Bulgaria can receive BGN 15 billion just for decarbonization, the Climate Coalition claims: "We are about to miss this opportunity to modernise our economy for the sake of short-term profits from a polluting industry in the grip of oligarchic interests".

Expected loss of jobs is often used as an excuse for these irresponsible government actions. But climate change puts many more jobs at risk than closing coal plants, the Climate Coalition Stated. Investments in renewable energy sources and a battery plant already planned by the NRRP shall create almost 20,000 jobs in the coal regions - roughly the current number of people employed.

"Let's not be fooled -  the political unanimity against closing coal power plants only serves their current owners, not the livelihood of their enslaved workers. The latter most urgently need healthy alternative employment," said Antonov. This is why BlueLink is offering steady support to the Coalition as part of its mission to improve cooperation and critical information exchange between civil organizations working to protect the environment, defend democracy and the values of a united Europe.


One more important thing

To continue to support online communications for environmental protection, pan-European values and democracy, the voices and perspectives of people who are increasingly rarely heard in the mainstream media, and to uphold the ethical, democratic and professional standards of journalism in the public interest, we need independence. You can support us by making a donation to the BlueLink Foundation. You can learn more about BlueLink's mission, vision and activities here.