The European Parliament endorsed last month a legally binding target for the EU to cut planet-heating emissions by 60% by 2030. The speedy adoption of a comprehensive long-term coal phase-out strategy in Bulgaria to take place before 2030 becomes crucial for the just transition process in the country and the economic restructuring of its coal regions. The strategy is needed for the country to take advantage of the financial opportunities of the new Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU (in particular the Just Transition Fund) and the new recovery instrument “Next Generation EU budget”. These place the ecological transformation and digitalization at the heart of the economic recovery process in Europe.
On 6 November 2020, the Center for Study of Democracy and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Bulgaria organized the first online seminar from CSD’s International Online Webinar Series “A vision for a carbon-free Europe by 2050. How to make the European Green Deal a success story in Southeast Europe?”.
The energy transition webinar “Translating the European Green Deal into long-term Decarbonization Alternatives” addressed the decarbonisation of the energy sector, which is a particularly complex challenge in South Eastern Europe. Coal and lignite dominate the region’s energy mix, despite the available abundant and diverse renewable energy potential. In view of the EU’s long-term goal to become carbon neutral by 2050, the webinar highlighted the decarbonisation challenges ahead and the possible pathways for implementing the European Green Deal in Bulgaria. The webinar panelists, including Bulgarian government officials, discussed the need for comprehensive strategy and policy measures to translate this high-level ambition into successful domestic action plans.
The webinar discussed the political, economic and social challenges related to the coal phase out in Bulgaria and the different financing instruments available to support the energy transition, the economic restructuring in the coal regions, and the alternative green projects. The experts highlighted the most likely European and national scenarios for achieving a low-carbon economic transformation and sustainable development, as well as the conditions for achieving progress towards just transition in those regions heavily dependent on coal and other fossil energy sources in Southeast European countries like Bulgaria. In the context of the post-Covid economic recovery process, aligning the policy targets of the European Green Deal with the “Next generation EU” green recovery programme will be crucial.