The Balkans demand clean air!

The Balkan unites!

For the first time in the history of our beautiful Balkan peninsula, nine cities from 5 countries will join forces in our fight for clean air! From Banja Luka and Belgrade, all the way down to Skopje, people will amass the streets at the same time on the 28th of February, 2020, at 6 PM.

Why the protest?

For decades, the air pollution in the Balkans has been getting worse. From old vehicles to unregulated industry, to terrible home heating solutions, all have contributed to a terrible situation every winter. In the latest studies, only in Macedonia do more than 3000 people die prematurely every year due to air pollution-related causes. This is the cruel reality that people in the Balkans live in every day.

What are the causes?

There are so many that it’s hard to keep count, but let’s go over the major ones:

  • The industry – Lots of factories work with minimal to no air filters. The laws that are in place are not enforced by the authorities. The fines are minimal compared to the profit of these giants.
  • The cars – Old cars are banned in the EU, so guess who gets to drive them? We import a lot of old, diesel cars, trucks and busses that do not help in any way of lowering the smog in the air.
  • The heating – Wood is the primary heating source for many homes on the Balkans that are not connected to the city heating or gas networks. Burning wood produces significant pollution in the air.
  • Burning trash – This is a hard pill to swallow: EU countries exporting their trash to the Balkans so it will be burnt here. Italy has been caught doing this in Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria, and behind this stands a well organized crime group.


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Why issues in winter?

Well, the pollution exists all year round, but it’s more visible in winter because of temperature inversion. Imagine a city like Skopje that is surrounded by mountains. These mountains create a sort of a pot. Now, take warm air from the heating of homes that rises up, and take cold air from the winter climate going down. These two air currents meet at the top of the mountains and start pushing on each other, forming a lid on top of the pot.

This way, all pollution that is generated from the city, cars, and factories can’t escape in the atmosphere and stays trapped under the lid. The picture of Skopje in winter below explains this effect well. And remember, this is not only in Skopje; the same situation is in all Balkan cities that have similar pollution issues.

Skopje was covered in smog in February 2017. Photo by Donce Ilijoski

What can I do?

Well, there are many things that you can start doing, and we’ll be covering them in the next posts.
But now, the most important thing you can do is go out on the street this Friday and voice your frustration at the government’s inability to deal with this crisis!

Check out this link for the latest information on all protests in every city!

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