Although Bulgaria, a European Union country, has been part of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EUETS) since 2005, it was not participating in trading schemes on voluntary carbon markets. EUETS participation relies mostly on emissions reductions based on restructuring the Bulgarian economy since the fall of the Iron Curtain. In doing so, it failed to encourage additional investments in carbon emissions reductions.
In addition, not all types of technologies, activities, and products are eligible under EUETS. The current economic crisis has further reduced the ability of companies to invest in emissions reductions, and the low-carbon technologies market has shrunk.
First, the project lobbied the Bulgarian government and parliament to change national policy, allowing government agencies and private companies to participate in voluntary carbon markets. Second, the project built the interactive website greenhero.com to mobilize funding from individuals, companies, and organizations for carbon emissions reduction projects at the community level. Finally, the initiative launched a demonstration project with Sviloza, a large Bulgarian pulp and paper company, to improve its energy efficiency and reduce emissions by a minimum of 800,000 tons of carbon equivalent over 10 years, or 3,000,000 tons over 21 years (depending on which carbon credit contract ends up getting signed). Sviloza can now get certified, and start participating in voluntary carbon markets – setting an example for other Bulgarian businesses.
Helping the planet
Since Bulgarian agencies and companies are now able to participate in voluntary carbon markets, the project is addressing the problem of climate change by contributing to carbon emission reductions. Building the capacity of Bulgarian actors to participate in voluntary carbon markets is also improving access to renewable energies, and contributing to sustainable use of natural resources.
The demonstration project reduces energy use and helps create green jobs, while the website allows public participation in environmental projects – such as the TrashBack recycling effort, which was fully funded through greenheros.com.
Addressing the problem of climate change is helping to improve the quality of life for all who inhabit planet Earth. The Bulgarian pulp and paper company Sviloza, featured in the carbon-reductions demonstration project, is expected to be a reliable employer, which will benefit the community of Svishtov where it is based. The greenheros.com website is allowing people to support numerous projects that benefit the communities where they are based.
The policy change implemented at the national level in Bulgaria shows how the project can grow, as it provides long-term incentives to all large greenhouse gas emitters to voluntarily invest in low-carbon alternatives. Companies that verify and certify themselves for trading credits on voluntary markets, as Sviloza has, generate additional income, which allows them to invest in new low-carbon technologies, creating a positive feedback loop for the market.
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