Total Energies CEO Patrick Pouyanne (R) speaks with activists at the COP27 UN climate conference where he was heckled by others angered by the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists

Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) (AFP) - French giant TotalEnergies’ chief executive was confronted by climate activists Friday at the COP27 summit in Egypt, where the presence of fossil fuel firms has drawn backlash.

As he was readying to join a conference, Patrick Pouyanne was confronted by a number of activists, forcing him to briefly take cover in the Guinean pavilion, an AFP correspondent reported.

This was followed by a tense exchange with the activists, who criticised TotalEnergies’ continued presence in Russia, its projects in east Africa and its representation at the UN climate talks.

“I have the right to be here,” Pouyanne told the activists. “I respect you so respect me, that’s all I’m asking you.

“We deliver gas to Europe because Europe is needing this gas,” said the chief executive, as the energy giant maintains its presence in its Yamal natural gas facility in Russia.

British watchdog Global Witness commented on the events, saying: “Today Mr Pouyanne was confronted by the destructive impact of his company, from Eastern Europe to East Africa.

“He is just one of more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists that have flooded these UN climate talks, a sharp increase from the previous year.”

Groups including Global Witness estimate that the number of lobbyists at this year’s climate summit has increased by 25 percent compared to last year’s gathering in Glasgow.