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Environmentalists Protest G8 Summit

Demonstrators Break into Power Stations Across Italy as World Leaders Meet

ROME - Environmentalists broke into power stations across Italy and shed their clothes in downtown Rome on Wednesday as world leaders discussed a new deal to combat global warming.

Activists wearing masks depicting the leaders attending the G8 (Group of Eight) Summit in L'Aquila, pose for photographers during a protest against the G8 Summit in front of St. John in Lateran Basilica, in Rome, Thursday, July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) Dozens of activists from 18 countries scaled smokestacks and occupied four Italian coal-fired power plants, hanging banners that called on the Group of Eight summit in central Italy to take the lead in fighting climate change, Greenpeace said.

Italian energy giant Enel, which owns three of the plants, said production had not been disrupted by the protests. Employees at two of the plants staged counter-demonstrations, and the union for Italy's energy workers condemned the protest.

In Rome, activists from charity group Oxfam International put on masks of world leaders and dressed up as chefs, stirring a mock Earth in a pot representing the planet's rising temperature.

On the historic Spanish Steps, environmentalists stripped half-naked in front of tourists and unfurled a banner calling on leaders to "Keep climate cool." Police briefly detained two women, a French citizen and an American, as well as a Greek man.

The G-8 on Wednesday agreed to support a goal of keeping the world's average temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The agreement marks a significant step in efforts to limit greenhouse gases blamed for the world's rising temperature. The G-8 previously had not been able to agree on that temperature limit as a political goal.

In Rome, several members of the Italian parliament said they were starting a hunger strike on Wednesday night to urge the G-8 leaders to press China to end the violence in Xinjiang region.

Chinese President Hu Jintao hastily cut short a visit to Italy this week, where he was to attend the summit along with other developing countries, to deal with the violence, in which at least 156 people have perished in rioting.

The climate change stunts came a day after anti-globalization groups in the capital blocked roads and rail tracks and clashed with police in violent protests against the G-8. Nearly 40 activists were detained.

Also Wednesday, the ANSA news agency reported that police had briefly held four Dutch citizens who were traveling to the summit area with helmets, gas masks and sticks in their car.

Several demonstrations have been scheduled in Rome and L'Aquila, the quake-shattered central Italian town hosting the three-day summit that opened Wednesday.

In one such protest, L'Aquila residents climbed a hill in front of the police school serving as the summit venue and set up giant plastic letters reading "Yes we camp" ahead of President Barack Obama's arrival.

The wordplay on Obama's "Yes we can" campaign slogan sought to remind the world leaders about the thousands of earthquake survivors who are still living in makeshift tent camps since the devastating April 6 temblor.

The Italian government chose L'Aquila as host to highlight the population's plight, but some locals fear the decision is diverting time and resources from the rebuilding of their shattered homes.

 

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