"Anti 40% Coalition" - Bulgarian energy workers and miners, MPs, municipalities and trade unions together in defense of the "Energy" sector

Energy / Bulgaria
3E news
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The broad coalition "Anti 40% Coalition" will work to preserve the energy stability and independence of Bulgaria and will demand a review of the commitment for a 40% reduction in emissions by 2026, which will liquidate coal power prematurely.

On December 16, 2022, during a meeting-discussion on the future of Bulgarian energy, representatives of most political parties represented in parliament, representatives of local government in the form of mayors of municipalities, part of the coal regions in Bulgaria, the executive directors of almost all thermoelectric power plants and coal mines and unions have created an "Anti 40% Coalition" that will fight to renegotiate and reverse the commitments made under the Recovery and Resilience Plan to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2026. The main goal of the broad coalition is to preserve of the energy independence and security of the country, as well as the social rights of the working energy workers and miners during an economic and energy crisis and at a time when the plans for the transformation of the Bulgarian power plants have not yet been fully implemented.

The forum was organized by KNSB and KT "Podkrepa". The heating plants in Pernik, Sliven, Burgas, Ruse, Pleven, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo, Vratsa, Maritsa 3-Dimitrovgrad, as well as TPP Maritsa Iztok 2, TPP Kontur Global TPP Maritsa East 3, TPP AES Galabovo, TPP Brickel, TPP Bobov dol took part., the state-owned Maritsa East Mines, as well as several mines from the Southwest coal region. The meeting-discussion was attended by representatives of all the Municipalities where the main Bulgarian energy companies are located, along with a broad representation from most parliamentary political parties in Bulgaria, as well as employers' organizations.

During the discussion, the participants expressed their disagreement and concern about the lack of transparent policies for the future of coal-mining regions and energy enterprises using coal in the country, coordinated with social partners, municipalities and businesses, as well as the absence of a clear vision and strategy for the transformation of the energy sector. According to the representatives of the local government, the trade unions and the Bulgarian district heating companies, with such a commitment "in the dark" and without public discussion, Bulgaria will lose its energy independence and will turn from an energy center of the Balkans into a country that imports electricity. According to the representatives of heating systems and the mayors of the municipalities, this requirement will lead to the closure of half of the energy capacities in the country and will have a devastating socio-economic effect on the affected regions.

KNSB President Plamen Dimitrov stated that there is a lack of a comprehensive energy strategy and until now work has been done piecemeal. He indicated that the situation should be addressed clearly and openly. According to him, problems in the "Energy" sector must be solved jointly.

He informed that on Monday the Deputy Prime Minister Atanas Pekanov invited the trade unions and employers' organizations to a working meeting, where the fate of PVU will be discussed.

"The high price we will pay for limiting carbon emissions from our coal plants by 40% will bring enormous damage to the Bulgarian economy, and the energy industry will suffer a lot. And based on the funds provided for our country in the Energy Sector Plan, the energy sector will generate these funds for one year. Because of this, I personally prefer not to receive this money under PVU, for our energy industry to generate its own income," said the president of KT Podkrepa, Dimitar Manolov. He asked if we would be allowed to complete our state ourselves.

Nikolay Vulkanov, the chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Mines and Geology (BCMG) commented that in the last 20 years the energy industry has been destroyed and nothing has been built. He was adamant that no one has the right to destroy Bulgaria's energy industry by signing some documents somewhere. According to him, we have a huge water resource that is not being used.

During the meeting, Vasil Velev from AIKB stated that 2022 will be a record year for the use of coal. He asked why Bulgaria should participate in this ritual suicide.

Concerns about the impact on the coal regions themselves of the thus undertaken commitments, were shared by Zhivko Todorov, Mayor of Stara Zagora and by Kristina Lazarova, co-founder of the "Brown to Green" Platform. Todorov emphasized that it is necessary to change the date specified in the PVU, defining it as unrealistic. He pointed out that the consequences for the region of Stara Zagora will be the loss of billions of investments, jobs and the emigration of people from their hometowns due to a lack of perspective. Todorov emphasized the great importance of creating a unified strategy, in which there is also a place for the construction of industrial parks. For her part, Kristina Lazarova clearly emphasized that for the last two years, since they created the "Brown to Green" platform, they have become convinced that neither the retraining of the employed nor the implementation of investments is so easy. The projects that have started at the Bobov Dol TPP, construction of a photovoltaic park, biogas plant, use of natural gas, cannot happen immediately and require time for permits, construction, etc. "We need to be aware when a basic power goes out of operation, what it will be replaced with," said Kristina Lazarova.

She expressed her concern and disagreement with the fact that in the Territorial Plan for the Kyustendil region it is written that the Bobov Dol TPP should stop by 2026.

The executive director of ESO, Angelin Tsachev, also took part in the discussion, who emphasized that energy should be placed above the political level.

All political parties, with the exception of DB, took part in the forum, sharing their views and proposals for the preservation of Bulgarian energy.

The representatives of the authorities, trade unions and energy companies insisted on the convening of the Advisory Council on the European Green Deal to review the commitments already made and dropping the requirement to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2026, as well as the immediate start of negotiations with the European Commission.

After extensive discussion and with complete unanimity during the meeting, all participants signed an official declaration in which they clearly express their opinion on the revision of the commitments made by the previous government to the European Commission. The document will be sent to the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria and to the Council of Ministers. The declaration expresses all concerns from the hasty and thoughtless decisions to reduce carbon emissions by 40% only by 2026, taken without a comprehensive analysis of the consequences for Bulgaria's economy. The document expresses the concern of the local government, heating companies and trade unions regarding the lack of a clear vision and strategy for what and how the coal-fired power plants will be replaced, what and how will happen to around one hundred thousand Bulgarian energy workers directly and indirectly employed in the sector, miners and working Bulgarian citizens in other related fields.

The declaration states the need to show the will and desire to start open negotiations with the European Commission to drop the commitments, which in practice cannot be fulfilled without huge unnecessary and irreversible damage to the country's energy system and economy.



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