WWF Bulgaria: Just Transition for the Coal-Mining Regions in Southwest Bulgaria
by Rossitsa Rousseva, WWF Bulgaria
The transition to a low-carbon economy in Europe is no longer just an option. It is happening in practice and the processes of transformation in the energy sector have been going on for more than a decade.
Workers in the energy and coal industry and their trade unions face a serious challenge. On the one hand, they will have to take up much of the burden of the transition to a sustainable economy. A significant number of jobs will be transformed. This is a process that is already running due to the modernization and upgrading of current industrial technologies. On the other hand, trade unions as the driving force of social change have the best understanding of the potential and benefits of collective action. If they do not use their influence in the high carbon sectors to speed up and support the processes of modernization and upgrading during the transition to a low carbon economy, there is a risk many jobs to be closed down in the short-term. Now we are facing this problem in Southwest Bulgaria.
Decarbonisation policies and measures may in fact become the driving force for sustainable economic growth and social progress. This can be done with the active participation of the employees and workers who are most directly affected. There are various alternatives for achieving a just transition in Southwest Bulgaria. They were addressed a study conducted under the EUKI Project “Just Transition in Eastern and Southern Europe”. It outlines the possible scenarios for sustainable development beyond maintaining the current state (i.e. beyond the absence of concrete actions for change).
The analysis presents possible solutions to the problems related to the transition from coal industry to a sustainable economy in Southwest Bulgaria. It is an attempt to plan the future of coal regions in Bulgaria and can serve as a tool for policy planning and long-term strategic decision making in this region.