Spanish Minister did not travel by private jet to ‘climate conference’

13 September 2023
What was claimed

Spain’s minister for ecological transition and demographic challenge, Teresa Ribera, travelled to a climate conference by private jet.

Our verdict

This is not true. The ministry confirmed she travelled by car, and her delegation travelled by train.

What was claimed

Ms Ribera exited a car to cycle a short distance to arrive at the venue by bike.

Our verdict

There’s no evidence she exited a car to cycle the final distance. She appears to have cycled further than the posts claim.

Posts circulating on social media falsely claim the Spanish environment minister took a private jet to a climate conference. The posts also claim she was driven to the venue but got out of a car when she was nearby to cycle a short distance, but there’s no evidence this is true. 

Teresa Ribera is both the third vice president of the government of Spain and the minister for ecological transition and demographic challenge. The posts share footage of her supposedly cycling the final leg of the journey between escorting cars.

One Instagram post says: “You can’t make this stuff up. Spain’s minister of ecological transition, Teresa Ribera, flew on a private jet to attend a climate conference and 100 meters before the meeting point got out of the car to ride a bicycle in. [sic]” Another post says the minister has been “busted for hypocrisy”. 

The claims first appeared after an informal meeting of EU ministers of environment and energy in Valladolid, Spain, on 10 July, which appears to be the so-called “climate conference” referred to in the posts. Posts continue to circulate online and have been widely shared on Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter).

Full Fact has written about similar false claims before, including posts purporting to show photos of private jets at a 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) “climate change conference” and Scottish airports during COP26.

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The minister did not take a private jet

Ms Ribera did not travel by private jet to the meeting held in Valladolid on 10 July. 

The online claim appears to come from speculation that a Spanish government-owned Falcon jet arrived in Valladolid from Madrid on the morning of the conference. This information comes from a website that tracks jet planes and appears to show a Falcon jet making a return between Madrid and Valladolid with the callsign ‘Lince03’. One post shared details of the flight from this website, alongside similar claims about Ms Ribera cycling for “show”. 

However, Spanish fact checkers, Newtral, reported that sources from the Spanish Air Force group operating the Falcon jets confirmed the jet did not have any passengers while carrying out manoeuvres—without actually stopping—in the vicinity of Valladolid airport on the morning of 10 July. 

Data from a flight tracking platform, Flight Aware, also shows the same plane (identifiable by the callsign LINCE03) did not actually land in Valladolid but took off and landed in Madrid without stopping.

Responding to the claim, the official account for the Ministry for Ecological Transition confirmed Ms Ribera did not travel by either commercial or private plane, and warned people against sharing false information. 

A spokesperson for the  Ministry also told fact checkers at that the minister travelled by car to Valladolid the day before the conference, while the rest of the delegation took the train. 

Full Fact has contacted the Ministry for Ecological Transition for comment and will update the article if we receive a response. 

Did the minister exit a car to cycle the final leg?

Posts claim Ms Ribera exited a car to cycle the final leg—“100 metres”, “100 yards” or “the last few metres”—to the meeting point. However, there’s no evidence this is true. 

While footage appears to show the minister arriving at the conference by bike, it does not show her exiting a car to start cycling. In the footage, Ms Ribera is using the city’s bike-sharing scheme and reportedly travelled along a recently-built cycle path

It has been reported elsewhere that Ms Ribera cycled from her hotel to the meeting venue the morning after arriving in Valladolid by car. 

Image courtesy of Diario de Madrid

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