Bulgarian coal miners demand job security, fear changes

Hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers stage a protest in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions. The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the EU.  (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Caption
Hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers stage a protest in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions. The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the EU.  (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

Credit: Valentina Petrova

Credit: Valentina Petrova

Hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers are protesting to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers staged a protest on Wednesday to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions.

Buses carried protesters from across Bulgaria for the rally in downtown Sofia, where demonstrators chanted “We want jobs!” as they marched to the government headquarters.

Bulgarian miners say the EU’s time frame for closing coal mining and coal extraction is too short and argue it shouldn't come at the expense of the bloc’s poorest and most carbon-dependent regions.

The organizers of the protest — the country's two largest trade unions — said they were defending Bulgaria's energy independence and warned that tens of thousands of jobs are at risk should the biggest coal mines and energy plants in southeastern Bulgaria close.

The protesters submitted to the government a petition with 110,000 signatures demanding to extend the operational lifetime of the coal-fired power plants. They also warned that a possible energy crisis this winter in the EU could lead to a social crisis because of the high carbon prices in the EU.

Nearly half of the electricity in the Balkan country of 7 million is produced by coal power plants, while another 35% comes from nuclear energy. The rest is covered by hydroelectric, solar and wind generation.

The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest gross domestic product per capita rates in the EU.

Bulgaria will hold an early general election on Nov. 14. There is no operational parliament at the moment, and the caretaker government has limited powers.

After meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev, union leaders said the government had agreed that the closure date for the coal power plants should be after 2040.

___

Follow all AP stories on climate change issues at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-change.

Protester carry a cross with a sign "Maritsa East mine" seen as hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers staged a protest in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions. The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the EU.  (AP Photo Valentina Petrova)
Caption
Protester carry a cross with a sign "Maritsa East mine" seen as hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers staged a protest in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions. The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the EU.  (AP Photo Valentina Petrova)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

Protesters seen behind flags and banners of their trade union as hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers staged a protest in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions. The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the EU.  (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Caption
Protesters seen behind flags and banners of their trade union as hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers staged a protest in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions. The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the EU.  (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

Credit: Valentina Petrova

Credit: Valentina Petrova

A worker wearing a hat with Bulgarian flag as Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers staged a protest in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions. The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the EU.  (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Caption
A worker wearing a hat with Bulgarian flag as Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers staged a protest in Sofia, Bulgaria, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, to demand government guarantees for their jobs amid bids by the European Union to close mines and reduce carbon emissions. The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions poses a huge challenge to Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the EU.  (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

Credit: Valentina Petrova

Credit: Valentina Petrova