How ‘climate lockdowns’ became the new battleground for conspiracy-driven protest movement

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At a protest in Oxford on Feb. 18, one placard said “THE 15-MINUTE WEF GHETTOS ARE NOT ABOUT CLIMATE. IT’S ABOUT TYRANICAL CONTROL.” Others went further and said the plan was comparable to Nazi “concentration camps’’ and the Warsaw Ghetto, which at its height 80 years ago housed 460,000 Polish Jews.

“A couple of people in my local town were making fun of me saying, you know, ‘Where’s your security detail?’ So it’s not at all a local thing, it’s using things that I’ve never really heard of. I’ve only really come across the World Economic Forum on the telly,” Enright said.

The traffic filter pilot was approved in October and there are no plans to halt the scheme.

A pyramid of priorities

The inventor of the 15-minute city concept has become a hate figure for those who rail against urban change in the name of environmentalism.

“It’s amazing to switch from being a researcher at a university to being a public enemy of the global movement of conspiracy theorists,” said Carlos Moreno, an associate professor at the IAE Paris-Sorbonne Business School in Paris.

“It is the same people who are climate deniers, who thought Covid-19 was a biological weapon, [that] the vaccine was a way to introduce 5G into the body of people — they are manipulating the 15-minute concept [into] an open-air jail,” he told NBC News.

Around 2016, Moreno developed the idea that communities should be structured around people — not cars — and that everything someone might need during the day — from shops to schools, workplaces to doctors’ surgeries — should be reachable within a 15-minute drive or cycle.

Modern cities have, he argues, given up far too much space to motorists.

Originally from Colombia, Moreno’s concept has been embraced by cities all over the world, including his adopted city of Paris, where Mayor Anne Hidalgo made reworking local areas to give priority to  cyclists and pedestrians a pledge in her successful electoral campaign last year.

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