Hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers protested on Thursday to demand government guarantees that their jobs will be preserved amid bids by the European Union to close mines and tackle climate change.
Buses carried protesters from across Bulgaria for the march in downtown Sofia, where some 2,000 demonstrators chanted "victory" as they marched to the headquarters of the EU offices in Bulgaria and rallied there Thursday.
Bulgarian miners say the EU's timeframe for closing down coal mining and coal extraction is too short and argue it should not come at the expense of the bloc's poorest and most carbon-dependent regions.
Union leader Dimitar Manolov said 150,000 jobs are at risk should the biggest coal mines and energy plants in southeastern Bulgaria close down.
Bulgaria's electricity production relies mainly on coal and nuclear generating facilities. Coal provides roughly half of the electricity in the country and nuclear about 35 percent. The rest is covered by hydro, solar and wind generation.
President Rumen Radev said Thursday that his country would oppose any further steps aimed at curbing carbon emissions.
Radev said that at next week's U.N. climate conference he will declare Bulgaria's support for the "necessary and urgent" efforts to limit climate change. He added, however, that there should be no increase in the limits that have already been agreed.
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.
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