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Posts use old photo to criticize jets flown to climate conference

November 4, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Photo shows “the 400 jets used by #COP26Glasgow attendees to get to a conference on reducing emissions and fossil fuels.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The image was taken in New Orleans during the 2013 Super Bowl.

THE FACTS: As international leaders meet in Scotland for the U.N. climate summit known as COP26, some are criticizing the fact that some attendees arrived at the meeting using private jets.

But some widely shared posts are using an old image to make their argument.

“These are the 400 jets used by #COP26Glasgow attendees to get to a conference on reducing emissions and fossil fuels,” conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza wrote in a tweet that garnered some 9,000 retweets and 23,000 likes. “Clearly there will be fierce competition here for the Hypocrisy Awards.”

Reverse image searches show the photo used in the tweet has been online for several years.

The image appeared in a 2013 story by Aviation International News, which identified the image as showing hundreds of business jets at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport for the Super Bowl that year.

David Spielman, the New Orleans-based photographer credited with the image, confirmed in a phone interview that he took the photo for that outlet.

D’Souza later corrected himself on Facebook, where he had also shared the claim. “Correction: the photo posted below was the wrong photo,” he said. “The photo below was taken in 2013.”

D’Souza did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

COP26 bills itself as being a “carbon-neutral conference” and says that “unavoidable carbon emissions from COP26” will be offset — such as by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Associated Press asked the communications team for the conference how many private jets had transported attendees and whether they were accounted for in the carbon offsets plan, but did not receive a response before publication.

Other efforts to verify the number of private jets used were also unsuccessful.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.