Protesting Coal Miners Assured of Firm Government Support


Protesting Coal Miners
Assured of Firm
Government Support

Sofia, November 29 (BTA) - About a thousand coal miners and members of the public took part in a protest in Sofia on Thursday, organized by the industrial federations affiliated to the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour.

The protestors marched past the Representation of the European Commission, the Ministry of Economy, the Administration of the President, the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Environment and Water and the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission. Traffic in the centre of the city was blocked for about three hours.

Podkrepa Confederation of Labour President Dimiter Manolov said the protest was organized to press the institutions to guarantee that Bulgaria's position at the 2018 Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, on December 3-4, will be "firm and intransigent". Manolov described the position, which has been drawn up by the Environment and Water Ministry and will be presented by President Rumen Radev, as "good and dignified". The Podkrepa leader does not expect any differences to emerge during a meeting between the head of State and the trade unions on Friday.

Bulgaria must join the coalition of States which will campaign for a fairer transition to a low-carbon economy. According to Podkrepa, this country should have a "more moderate and sparing" roadmap for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE). "Our power industry depends at 42 to 60 per cent on lignite production," Manolov explained. He recalled that GGE allowances now cost 20 euro/tonne and are expected to appreciate. "At present the State, through the National Electric Company (NEK), pays entirely the GGE allowances of two of the TPPs in the Maritsa East complex and helps the third TPP pay for its emissions, considering that the cost of these emissions is not factored into the electricity price that we pay through our bills," the tradeunionist said.

Earlier in the day, Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova told the Podkrepa activists, quoted by her Ministry in a press release, that she hopes a derogation for TPP Maritsa East 2 to be a fact before the end of the year.

She was referring to steps taken by Bulgaria to obtain an indefinite waiver from new, more stringent EU limit values for harmful emissions for this country's largest thermal power plant which Greenpeace lists among Europe's worst air polluters.

Petkova assured the protestors that the Government firmly backs the Bulgarian power industry workers and spares no effort to ensure the trouble-free operation of the Maritsa East complex. No one would dare touch the coal-fired power plants which provide 46 of the country's electricity and up to 60 per cent in winter, she pointed out. In her words, the Bulgarian electricity industry relies on the coal-fired power plants for its normal functioning.

The Energy Minister informed the tradeunionists that a quarter of the GGE allowances needed for the operation of TPP Maritsa East 2 in 2018 have already been purchased, and the rest of the quantities will be paid by December 21.

The Bulgarian Energy Holding spent nearly 74 million leva in 2016 and 203,766,000 leva in 2017 on the purchase of GGE allowances for TPP Maritsa East 2, which is its subsidiary, reports. To be able to operate in 2018, the plant must purchase 8.6 million tonnes of carbon equivalent emissions. Considering the steadily growing and volatile prices of the allowances, which have reached 21-25 euro/tonne and may rise further, the estimated costs approximate 200 million euro. Some time ago Petkova mentioned 466 million leva, and later on she adjusted the amount to 300 million leva. LI/LG

Source: Sofia