Viewing cable 09VILNIUS662

09VILNIUS6622009-12-08 15:39:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius

DE RUEHVL #0662/01 3421539
P 081539Z DEC 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000662 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2019 
Classified By: Ambassador Anne E. Derse for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  In her introductory call on Environment 
Minister Gediminas Kazlauskas, Ambassador Derse said that the 
USG is committed to reaching a legally binding agreement on 
climate change and heard that Lithuania, while largely in 
sync with the EU position in Copenhagen, does not want an 
agreement so restrictive that it would hamper the country's 
economic development.  Kazlauskas also said that ministry 
priorities include moving ahead on a program to renovate 
apartment buildings to make them more energy efficient, 
simplifying land-use requirements to improve the investment 
climate, improving waste-management and water-treatment 
practices, and expanding use of green-energy technologies. 
End summary. 
Climate change 
¶2.  (C)  On the first day of the climate-change conference in 
Copenhagen, Ambassador Derse had her initial meeting with 
Lithuania's Environment Minister, Gediminas Kazlauskas, in 
Vilnius.  She outlined recent changes in USG policy on 
climate issues, stressing that President Obama is committed 
to achieving a legally binding international agreement on 
climate change and enumerating some of the regulatory changes 
the United States has made to decrease greenhouse-gas 
emissions.  "President Obama has said we will engage.  This 
is a big change in our policy regarding climate change, and I 
hope our European partners recognize that," she said. 
¶3.  (C)  Kazlauskas replied that many in Lithuania and Europe 
were concerned that the Obama administration, by taking on 
climate change and health-care reform simultaneously, might 
not be able to fulfill its promises on climate change.  He 
also said that while Lithuania was supporting the EU position 
in Copenhagen, it and other eastern European countries have 
some differences with the older EU member states.  "These old 
member states have a different level of economic 
development," he said.  "Lithuania wants to keep some 
possibility to reach another level of economic development, 
and we'd like to have some allowance for that." 
¶4.  (C)  Under the provisions of the Kyoto climate-change 
pact, Lithuania has emissions credits that it can sell to 
other countries.  Lithuanian law says revenues from such 
sales must be used for energy and environment projects, but 
some members of the parliament have told us recently that 
they would like to see that money used to ease the country's 
current budget woes.  Kazlauskas and Vice Minister 
Aleksandras Spruogas told the Ambassador that they saw 
virtually no chance of the law being changed to allow that. 
Other priorities 
¶5.  (C)  Kazlauskas said that while the Copenhagen conference 
and the GOL's budget debate are keeping everybody at the 
ministry busy these days, another priority for the coming 
year is continuation of a program to renovate apartment 
buildings to increase their energy efficiency.  That program 
will allow for savings by cutting energy use, help Lithuania 
to decrease its energy dependence on Russia, and put 
construction workers and other laborers back to work during 
the economic slump. 
¶6.  (C)  Another ministry priority is to simplify the 
procedures investors must follow for getting approval for 
land use.  Those permissions can take up to two years, and 
the ministry, which has responsibility for land-use issues, 
wants to cut that "dramatically," Kazlauskas said.  The 
Ambassador welcomed the minister's words, saying that 
American businesses have told her that one of the biggest 
bars to investing in Lithuania was the cumbersome procedure 
for acquiring land. 
¶7.  (C)  Kazlauskas also said that Lithuania wants to improve 
waste-management and water-treatment practices, and welcomed 
the Ambassador's offer to find ways for Lithuania and the 
United States to cooperate in that area.  "I read just a few 
weeks ago that there are some very good technologies coming 
from the U.S. on that," he said. 
¶8.  (C)  Although the Ministry of Energy takes the lead on 
renewable energy, Kazlauskas said, his ministry also follows 
those developments.  He said private businesses are working 
on some wind-power projects off the Baltic Sea coast, but are 
looking for new sources of equipment.  "In Europe there are 
not enough possibilities to procure all that we need," he 
said.  "Now companies are looking in China, because the 
prices are very different from Europe and the quality is 
enough."  The Ambassador said she would be very interested in 
exploring any possibilities for American firms to work with 
Lithuania on wind power or any other clean and green energy