A conference entitled "Impact of Climate Change on Bulgarian Economy" was organized in Sofia on Tuesday by Bulgaria's Ministry of Agriculture and Food with the participation of the Ministries of Economy, Energy and Tourism and of Environment and Water. The participants focused on the role of renewable energy and the impact of climate change on farming. Addressing the conference, Agriculture and Food Minister Miroslav Naydenov said that his Ministry's concept is to preserve fertile lands and forests in Bulgarian. In Naydenov's words, fertile land will become ever more valuable and more expensive. He said that the global food crisis is the biggest challenge facing mankind. He recalled that the Agriculture Ministry issues permits for the construction of wind farms and photovoltaic power plants on farmland.
He added that there is a lot of biomass in forests which is decomposing and it is a reserve that can be used as a renewable energy source.
In Naydenov's words, if solar energy as an input costs nothing to investors, then it will be even more advantageous for those investing in biomass because forest farms will pay to have it removed from their areas. The issue of biomass and forestry farms is expected to be regulated by the new Forests Act and the related statutory instruments of secondary legislation.
Renewable energy sources have almost no alternative in the medium and long term, Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Traicho Traikov said at the conference. He noted, however, that the energy produced from these sources cannot yet compete with the energy produced from conventional sources, which is why governments adopt instruments on the promotionof investments in renewable energy sources.
Traikov said that call for project proposals will soon be launched under Operational Programme Competitiveness that will provide the business community with 200 million euro for energy-saving equipment. The list of eligible equipment is being prepared at the moment.
Traikov described as "an important change" the establishment of an Agency for Sustained Energy Development, which will replace the existing Agency for Energy Efficiency. The new agency will promote green energy policies and energy efficiency measures.
A risk assessment for flooding on Bulgarian territory is expected to be done by the end of 2011, Environment and Water Minister Nona Karadjova said at the conference. The effects of climate change will be both abrupt droughts and unexpected rains and floods, she noted, adding that measures will be phased in by 2015.
Unless immediate action is taken, the effect of climate change will make itself felt in the next ten years, Karadjova said. In her words, agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors because of the expected droughts, BTA reported.