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Over 1/3 of the Bulgarians cannot afford to keep their homes adequately warm

Photo: BGNES

Bulgaria is country in Southeast Europe where climate is supposed to be milder, there are more warm and sunny days and less additional heating is necessary for this country’s homes and offices. However, the truth is that Bulgaria is also a Balkan country and the name of this peninsular is often associated with rain, snow and cool weather. That is why the climate in Bulgaria is generally continental and despite the global warming, there are four seasons in this country

Winter in Bulgaria is harsh and air temperatures often fall below zero degrees Celsius. Rain and snow are quite common and heating is needed at least 4 or 5 months a year.

According to Eurostat, however, last year 33.7% of the Bulgarian citizens were not able to heat their homes adequately, whereas only 7% of the EU population said they had difficulties keeping their homes adequately warm. Fortunately, in the past twelve years the number of Bulgarians who cannot afford to heat their homes sufficiently decreased significantly. In 2006, for instance, nearly 70% of the Bulgarian nationals said they could not afford to keep their homes adequately warm and in 2017, only 36.5% of the Bulgarians said they had problems heating their homes adequately.

The improvement of this indicator is perhaps due to assistance measures undertaken by the local social institutions and in particular-the Social Assistance Agency, which allots each year money for heating to the needy. The amount of this money has seen some increase in the recent years and this heating season 253,000 people in a country with a population of less than 7 million received money for heating. The Social Assistance Agency estimates that the number of people receiving money for heating increased with 17% as compared to 2018/2019 heating season. Each household is due a total of EUR 240 for the entire heating season, which lasts for 5 months. The Bulgarians use this money to buy wood, coal, pellets- i.e. fuels containing high quantities of ash and fine particulate matter, which strongly pollute air, especially in the smaller Bulgarian towns and villages where households can only use solid fuels and electricity for heating due to the lack of central heating and gas, except for gas cylinders. Using electricity for heating is too expensive in this country and using gas bottles requires a lot of efforts and time. That is why the otherwise beautiful small Bulgarian towns and villages are among the most polluted places with fine particulate matter during the winter season. Moreover, this pollution is in full contradiction with the ideas and the requirements of the so-called EU Green deal, according to which by 2050 net carbon emission must be zero. Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov tried to calm things down saying that the right of the member states to make their own decisions on energy production in their energy mix is a success. Premier Borissov underlined that it is important for the countries to have the necessary time so that the processes run smoothly and the miners and the other people employed in the energy sector remain unaffected.

However, many observers, analysts and experts contend that the EU Green Deal will be huge problem for Bulgaria and the opponents of this deal have already started to show their discontent. The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, which is one of the two biggest labor unions in this country, said that Bulgaria is the EU member state that will lose the most from the so-called EU Green deal referring to the possible closure of the mines and the three coal-fired power stations in the Maritsa East basin. This would leave tens of thousands of Bulgarians jobless. The problem becomes even more severe if we take into account the money the Bulgarian households need to buy expensive and environmentally friendly heating devices and equipment.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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