Climate activists from Greenpeace dumped 18 tons of coal in front of the Swedish government's headquarters Wednesday in a protest designed to pressure European countries to close coal-fired power plants.
The action was part of a wider campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental activists calling for a global deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions at a U.N. summit in Copenhagen in December.
Elsewhere in Europe, Polish protesters blocked cargo trains at a coal transit point Wednesday, while nine Britons spent two nights this week camped on the chimney of a coal-firing power station. The activists hope the attention-grabbing stunts will also influence European Union leaders meeting this week to discuss a common position for the Copenhagen talks.
Coal-burning plants _ a major source of carbon dioxide emissions _ account for about one-third of the European Union's electricity production. Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic are among the biggest producers and users of coal in the 27-nation bloc.
Greenpeace activists said Sweden _ which now holds the EU presidency _ must set a better example. Even though the country relies mostly on nuclear and hydro power for its own energy needs, its state-owned utility Vattenfall runs several coal plants in Germany and Poland.
The activists said they trucked 18 tons of brown coal from Germany and dumped it outside the government office in Stockholm in a protest aimed at Vattenfall and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
"There are only a few weeks left before the climate summit in Copenhagen," Greenpeace spokesman Anders Hellberg said. Reinfeldt must "show the climate leadership that he talks about. That's hard when he allows the state-owned energy company to continue to invest in coal power."
Swedish police let the protesters picket outside the government office, while cleanup crews removed the coal. There were no arrests, but police took information from some activists, who could face charges, Hellberg said.
Vattenfall spokesman Mark Vadaszs said the company was a European leader in developing alternative energy sources, such as wind, hydro and solar power, and has devoted billions on carbon capture technology.
The EU sees carbon capture technology as a crucial step to reducing emissions from coal-fired power stations.
"It's not possible to switch off the coal plants because then the world would stop," Vadaszs said.
Greenpeace activists also staged a protest in Poland, blocking cargo trains at a coal transit station in Malaszewice. They appealed to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and other European leaders to agree to a 40 percent reduction of carbon emissions at the EU summit starting Thursday in Brussels.
So far, pledges by the world's industrial countries fall short of the minimum U.N. goal of a 25 percent cut by 2020.
In Britain, four women and five men were detained Wednesday on suspicion of aggravated trespass after spending two nights on the chimney of the Didcot Power Station in Oxfordshire. Eleven others who protested at the plant's coal conveyor were arrested Monday.
Amy Johnson, a 20-year-old student from Oxford, said the protest was called because the plant's owner, RWE npower PLC, plans to build more coal-fired power stations in Europe.
RWE spokeswoman Claire Loveday said that while the company was building three such plants, in Germany and the Netherlands, it was also investing billions in cleaner technologies and helping customers reduce demand.
RWE is also considering building three more plants, including two in the U.K., she said.
Associated Press Writers Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm, Bob Barr and Raphael Satter in London and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.