Bulgaria

   

Environmental Policies

#21
Key Findings
With a cautious climate policy, Bulgaria falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 21) with regard to environmental policies. Its score in this area has improved by 0.1 point relative to its 2014 level.

After a strong increase early in the decade, the share of renewables in Bulgaria’s energy mix has stagnated. However, the carbon-dioxide intensity of the economy is gradually decreasing, and per-capita CO2 emissions remain relatively low.

The country lacks a coherent water-resources strategy, with management largely controlled by municipalities. Forest and biodiversity protection are strengths. Conservation-focused groups are more influential than many other civil-society associations, although business interests continue to violate environmental policies, particularly in the mining and tourism sectors.

Bulgaria is relatively passive with regard to international environmental policies, but is in the group of East-Central European countries that have expressed caution regarding aggressive carbon targets.

Environment

#25

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
6
The share of renewables in the energy mix of Bulgaria has stagnated since 2013, having increased relatively rapidly previously. Improvements in energy efficiency and the substitution of higher for lower carbon emitting fuel sources have led to a gradual decrease in the carbon dioxide intensity of the economy. Per capita carbon dioxide emissions remain relatively low.

Water resource management rests predominantly with municipalities, creating problems of coordination and strategy development. One problem in this area arises from the fact that much of the renewable water resources in Bulgaria also affect neighboring countries (i.e., Romania, Turkey, Greece), requiring international coordination. In the summer of 2018, the government appropriated a relatively large budget to fund improvements in dam maintenance and management.

Forests in Bulgaria are either private, municipal or state property. This fact impedes the development and implementation of coordinated forestry policy actions. However, Bulgaria’s forest coverage is above the global average and has a long-term growing trend.

Bulgaria has a relatively large share of protected biomes. Approximately one quarter of its territory is under protection or special status. As opposed to many other issues, there is an active civil society sector working on biodiversity and conservation issues, which is capable of applying political pressure and sometimes achieves results. However, powerful business actors with access to policymakers often manage to violate environmental-protection policies in order to further business interests. Most violations of this kind take place in the tourism and mining sectors. The decision to build a second lift in the Bansko mountain resort, for instance, led to protests by citizens and environmental groups, and was initially withdrawn by the minister in charge. Later, however, there was a second attempt to build the lift, which was appealed in court and overthrown by the Supreme Administrative Court.

Global Environmental Protection

#16

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
5
The Bulgarian government is relatively passive with respect to international environmental and climate policies. While it is ahead of the global curve in terms of the introduction of renewables in the energy mix, it is in the group of East-Central European countries that are more cautious about adopting aggressive carbon reduction targets. The Bulgarian government chose not to include environmental topics among its priorities during its presidency of the Council of the European Union.
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