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Despite its picturesque location, Plovdiv is one of Bulgaria's most polluted cities

New council in Plovdiv to bring NGOs and institutions together for clean air policy

New council in Plovdiv to bring NGOs and institutions together for clean air policy

Climate Councillor, Anesti TImchev, met with World Bank representatives to discuss climate policy and ways to boost the city’s anti-air pollution strategy

Yesterday, representatives of the local administration in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, met with representatives of the World Bank to discuss measures to improve air quality in the city. The meeting was headed by Plovdiv’s City Councillor for Ecology, Anesti Timchev, with the support of the Bulgarian branch of the World Bank.

Councillor Timchev and the World Bank’s Eolina Milova, a senior environment specialist, united around the idea of creating a coordination council. The idea behind the council would be to unite all institutions and organisations concerned with the city’s climate policy. The council could then be a tool for the local administration to help enforce environmental policies.

Air quality in Bulgaria – a winding road towards effective policy

The question of clean air is particularly contentious in Bulgaria's second city, as last year the city lost a lawsuit against a citizen-led organisation. The plaintiffs argued that the continued poor air quality in the city was a detriment to citizens’ health and wanted to use the legal system to force the local administration to take action.

After Plovdiv was found guilty in Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassation, the local administration of Sofia, the capital, was also found guilty in a similar case, albeit in a lower court. This prompted Sofia’s Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, to announce a U-turn on air pollution and invest more heavily in climate policy.

Furthermore, at the start of 2022, the mayors of some of Bulgaria’s biggest cities -  Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas, met with the Environment Minister, Borislav Sandov, to discuss a joint action strategy for climate investment, as well as help from the national government.

Low emission zones

Currently, according to Climate Councillor Timchev, low-emissions zones in Plovdiv are the be-all and end-all of the city’s clean air policies. And he has a point, considering that they are already a staple of many European cities, seeming to both reduce emissions and increase safety.

According to Councillor Timchev, authorities plan to start implementing them primarily around schools, with the aim of slowly growing them out. In fact, he explained, in a report by the BTA news agency, that the city is nearly ready to put them into law, along with publishing all the necessary research data on emission savings.

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