More than 1,000 miners and workers at Bulgaria’s largest coal-fired power plant took to the streets of Sofia on November 29 to call on the government to guarantee it would not shut mines and power plants at Maritsa East lignite coal complex in southern Bulgaria.

“It looks like they may start closing units one by one, because of the convention that forces us to cut the harmful emissions,” said Katia Vassileva, 45, a worker at Maritsa East 2, adding that Bulgaria was having to pay a heavy price to buy the carbon permits to make up for emissions from the plant.

As reported by the Reuters news agency,

Coal-fired plants produce more than 40% of Bulgaria’s electricity. The government has said it would work to ensure they continued to operate.

However, the European Union is pushing to decarbonise the bloc’s economy by 2050.

“We need to find a solution, because it is not fair for the poorer countries,” said Vladimir Topalov, head of the miner’s federation at Podkrepa trade unions.

On the other hand, the environmental campaign group Europe Beyond Coal has said Bulgarian Energy Holding with its Maritsa East 2 plant is one of Europe’s biggest air polluters.