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Miners protest in Bulgaria

SOFIA, Oct 13 – About 1,000 miners and workers from Bulgaria’s largest coal-fired power plant marched in Sofia on Wednesday to protect their jobs and to urge the government to support their industry, Reuters informs.

Demonstrators called on the Cabinet to guarantee it would not rush to shut mines and power plants at the Maritsa East lignite coal complex in southern Bulgaria, despite a European Union push to decarbonise the bloc’s economy by 2050.

“There should be green, clean energy, but time is needed for investment first,” said Spaska Ruskova, 58, who works for a mining equipment company.

“It will probably happen for our grandchildren, but it cannot happen now, because hundreds of families are destined to lose their jobs and doomed to high power bills,” she said.

Bulgaria needs to set a date when it will phase out power generation from coal if it wants to draw on EU recovery funds and meet the bloc’s climate goals.

The interim government has said it will present its plan for EU aid to Brussels on Friday. It will defend its target of closing coal-fired plants by 2038 or 2040 – largely in line with the miners’ demands.

Environmental group Greenpeace has demanded that the polluting plants be closed by 2030, urging Bulgaria to focus on renewable energy and providing new jobs in the coal regions.

Protesters say early closure of the plants, which produce 40% of Bulgaria’s electricity, would lead to power shortages and rising energy costs.

Some 10,000 people work at the Maritsa East complex, whose lignite coal deposits are rich in sulphur blamed for poor air quality and respiratory diseases.

Trade unions say the complex provides livelihoods for more than 100,000 people in the European Union’s poorest member and have vowed to keep up pressure on the government that is to formed after a Nov. 14 general election.

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The last Norway’s Arctic coal mine will be closed until the 2023

OSLO, Sept 30 – Norway’s state-owned coal company will close its last mine in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago in 2023, it said on Thursday, causing the loss of 80 jobs and ending 120 years of exploitation, Reuters informs.

While Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani (SNSK) has shut its major mines in the islands over the past two decades, it had kept the smaller Mine 7 open, primarily to ensure supplies to a local coal-fired power plant, as well as some exports.

The Arctic islands are warming faster than almost anywhere on Earth, highlighting the risks to fragile ecosystems from climate change, and Norway aims to cut its overall emissions, although it also remains a major oil and gas producer.

Svalbard’s main settlement will temporarily switch its energy source to diesel in 2023 before establishing a permanent renewable electricity supply, negating the need for a local coal supply, SNSK said.

“Now that the contract to supply the power plant has been terminated there will no longer be a basis for operating the mine,” Chief Executive Morten Dyrstad said in a statement.

In the meantime however, Mine 7 will increase its output to a rate of 125,000 tonnes per year from the current 90,000 tonnes, taking advantage of high global prices to boost exports for the remaining two years.

But the volumes are small compared to SNSK’s historical output of several million tonnes annually, and the local economy is now primarily geared towards tourism and scientific research.

Located around 700 km (435 miles) north of the European mainland, Svalbard is governed under a 1920 treaty giving Norway sovereignty but allowing all nations signing it to do business there and to exploit its natural resources.

Russia operates a coal mine at its Barentsburg settlement, supplying a local power plant.

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Reinsurers look at dumping coal from bulk-buy policies in green gambit

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) – Major reinsurers have already pulled back from providing bespoke cover for coal projects as part of efforts to meet global climate change commitments, but now comes the hard part – finding ways to exclude coal from bulk-buy contracts, known as “treaty” reinsurance.

Reinsurance companies help to share the burden of insurance risks by underwriting frontline insurers. Any restrictions they impose will have a knock-on impact on insurance policies on offer to companies.

Most reinsurers have stepped back from offering insurers bespoke or direct cover for coal projects, but many still underwrite the industry through treaty reinsurance, where hundreds of insurers’ policies are bundled together.

The process of unbundling treaty reinsurance to search for coal exposure is tough, yet pressure is building on the industry from investors and regulators to do more to reflect the growing risks of climate change in how they underwrite. Swiss Re is already doing this.

If more reinsurers do cut back this cover, specialist commercial insurers such as those operating in the Lloyd’s of London market will feel the impact, as will suppliers to the coal industry or those businesses which derive even a small portion of their revenues from coal.

“The first consequence is insurance is harder to get, the second consequence is it’s expensive, the third consequence is there are all sorts of caveats on it and at the extreme you might not be offered it”, said Paul Merrey, insurance partner at KPMG.

A rail contractor to Adani Enterprises’ giant Australian coal project last month, for example, asked the Australian government for help to obtain insurance that it was not able to secure from the market.

Five of the world’s six largest reinsurers – Swiss Re, Munich Re, Hannover Re, SCOR and Lloyd’s of London – have already scaled back bespoke coverage for coal projects. But only Swiss Re, in a statement in March, has said it will go further and tighten its treaty reinsurance stance.

Munich Re and Hannover Re told Reuters they are working with their insurance clients to cut their own exposure further.

“We want to keep the dialogue and push for change together,” said Jean-Jacques Henchoz, chief executive of Hannover Re, though he added that: “It’s not happening in a couple of weeks, it’s taking a bit of time.”

Munich Re and Hannover Re said they were working out how to assess what was inside their treaty reinsurance books.ч

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