Goran Georgiev, Center for the Study of Democracy
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has once again highlighted the risks associated with the EU’s considerable dependence on conventional energy supplies from Russia. Although the current energy crisis began before the war, it was exacerbated by Russia in an effort to blackmail the EU and its members to abandon their common energy security, green energy transition, and foreign policy stance in support of Ukraine. The invasion has served to expedite the EU’s diversification away from Russian energy and has also shown signs of potentially hastening the transition away from fossil fuels. As such, the European Green Deal has taken on a new significance as a means of addressing the implications of the war and reducing the EU’s dependence on Russian energy, which provides Moscow with one of its largest cash inflows.
Nevertheless, Russia’s near total gas supply cut to Europe and the resultant skyrocketing affordability risks have also led to a resurgence of coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) in European economies, which remain highly carbon intensive. Significant discrepancies in public support for climate change policies remain across the EU, with members in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) prioritizing other socio-economic issues related to poverty and economic prosperity. Simultaneously, the Kremlin and its European proxies have continued to systematically push disinformation narratives that portray the Green Deal as utopian and economically counterproductive.
According to comparative policy research, Bulgaria remains one of the most vulnerable EU and NATO member states to foreign authoritarian influence. The country has been a long-standing target for information interference by the Kremlin and its local enablers, including an increasing tendency to target energy and climate-related subjects, especially the Green Deal, while also promoting large-scale Russian energy projects. Previous monitoring by the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in 2021 indicated that most of the local disinformation related to the Green Deal was produced and disseminated by Bulgarian media and political and economic entities known for systematically amplifying the Kremlin’s influence. Given Bulgaria’s significant vulnerability to disinformation and the low levels of information literacy in the country, these activities cast doubt on Bulgaria’s ability to abide by its commitments regarding the Green Deal.
In cooperation with the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Beacon Project, CSD monitored Bulgarian public discourse concerning the Green Deal from April to September 2022 on Facebook. The present analysis seeks to update and improve understanding of the key disinformation narratives related to the Green Deal and the actors that drive them, as well as to provide recommendations for public policy solutions.
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This policy paper has been prepared with support from IRI's Beacon Project. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of IRI