The European Commission said on February 15 that it approved 10 million euro in funding for an air quality integrated project in Bulgaria, under EU’s LIFE programme for the environment and climate action. The project’s total budget is 16.7 million euro.
This project brings together six major municipalities in Bulgaria – Sofia, Bourgas, Veliko Turnovo, Montana, Rousse and Stara Zagora, which are home to one-third of the country’s population – to build capacity to implement air quality programmes as required by the EU air quality directive and national legislation, the Commission said.
“For instance, the project will pilot the replacement of polluting household heating systems and will draft national recommendations for the transition to alternative forms of heating. [The project] will be a catalyst for the mobilisation of EU structural funding and national funds worth around 1.4 billion euro in total,” the EC said.
Air pollution from domestic heating and transport was a significant problem in Bulgaria, the Commission noted, with nearly 90 per cent of the urban population exposed to excessive levels of PM10 particulate matter in 2016, well above the EU average.
The project is one of 12 large-scale environmental and climate projects in 10 member states to support Europe’s transition to a low-carbon economy, which will receive a total of 116.1 million euro in EU funding (out of a total budget of 215.5 million euro).
“LIFE Integrated Projects are a perfect example of EU funds making a real difference on the ground, improving the quality of life of millions of European citizens. The new investment will help Member States to tap into resources to respond to citizens’ concerns on air and water quality and halt the loss of biodiversity,” European environment commissioner Karmenu Vella said in a statement.
(Smog over Sofia. Photo: dewfall/flickr.com)