The Sofia City Court ruled the city authorities are responsible for regular harmful levels of air pollution. According to the ruling, Bulgaria’s capital hasn’t updated its air quality management program or fulfilled its obligation to inform the public about air quality.
A group of citizens filed the lawsuit in partnership with Clean Air Group, formed by NGOs Za Zemiata, Save Sofia, Center for Independent Living, and the Type 2 Diabetes Association.
Sofia is one of the city with most polluted air in the world.
The local authority was instructed to introduce incentives for cleaner heating solutions
The court has ordered the Sofia Municipality to implement several measures. The local authority was instructed to introduce incentives for cleaner heating solutions and zones with low emissions of PM pollution and restrict transport on days of excessive pollution.
Za Zemiata said Sofia must conduct an assessment to answer why it is not developing public transportation, adding that the capital also needs to expand parking locations and expand and integrate the cycling network in the entire city.
The capital city’s administration has one year to implement the order.
The lawsuit concerned the non-intervention of city authorities on the air quality standards and the inadequate measures to reduce it over the period from 2015 to 2017.
8,000-9,000 people die annually in Bulgaria due to air pollution
The legal complaint launched four and a half years ago pointed to the World Health Organization’s finding from 2016 that the city was Europe’s most polluted capital in the terms of the presence of PM10 and PM2.5 in the air. According to the filed documents, about 8,000-9,000 people die annually in Bulgaria due to air pollution.
This is a great success for the citizens of Sofia and Bulgaria, as it demonstrates that citizens can work together to defend their right to clean air and a clean environment, Za Zemiata said.
Of note, this is just one of many legal complaints against Sofia’s authorities. In June six Bulgarian citizens have taken legal action against the authorities in Sofia over illegal and harmful levels of air pollution in the capital.