Todor Todorov is a member of the Energy and Climate team of the Environmental Association “Za Zemiata”, coordinating Energy Transformation and Just Transition activities. He is the national energy coordinator for Bulgaria about Energy Transformation and Just Transition for the CEE Bankwatch Network, LIFE project for Energy Transformation and Just Transition, and member of the expert council on climate change to the Minister of Environment. In addition to his project roles, he is a member of various governmental committees and working groups, such as the Commission for Energy Transition and the Monitoring Committee of the Operational Program “Development of Regions” 2021-2027. He is also an expert in the database of the EC, DG REGIO in the field of energy transition, and a partner in the JUSTEM project.
Todor, you are actively involved in the Bulgarian transition to climate neutrality. In short, how does Bulgaria plan to decarbonise (its economy and society)?
In addition to specific decarbonisation measures included in the Recovery Plan, the Territorial Plans and the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP), Bulgaria plans to build a large battery factory with a storage capacity of 6,000 MWh. The country aims to reduce coal emissions by 40% by the end of 2025.
What are the main challenges the country faces in the transition to a greener economy?
The energy transition measures were met with strong opposition from energy companies, trade unions, and even some media. For two weeks, trade unions protested against the adoption of the Territorial Plans, blocking the main highways across the country.
What are the demands of trade unions?
Trade unions are calling on the Bulgarian government to withdraw the territorial transition plans agreed with the European Commission in September. They have managed to sign an agreement that will safeguard jobs in the coal sector until 2038, keeping coal mines and power stations open. But they also insist that the volume of electricity produced by these mines and power stations cannot be reduced.
How do the coal workers’ demands affect the implementation of the Bulgarian transition plan?
The Bulgarian government signed an agreement with the unions committing itself to maintaining the coal industry – but refused to withdraw from the agreement with Brussels. As a result, the territorial plans remain unchanged, leaving the country in a deadlock.
How do you see the role of projects like JUSTEM in a situation like this in Bulgaria?
Projects like JUSTEM can be very important in informing civil society about the benefits of territorial just transition plans. They can help citizens become less susceptible to populist messages, more confident about the future and more informed about their country’s plans. We can show them that there are many opportunities in a future without coal.
Thank you so much for the interesting interview, Todorov.