Nearly a third of people who took part in a recent King’s College London and BBC poll said it was «definitely» or «probably» true that «15-minute city plans are an attempt by government to police people and restrict liberties».
Experts increasingly see Covid and the resulting lockdowns, vaccinations and restrictions as a defining moment for conspiracy-driven anti-authority activists.
“If you look at the people who are complaining, spreading misinformation, and legitimizing conspiracy theories about 15-minute cities, they are often the exact same cohort of people spreading Covid misinformation, and often it is the same language,” Tim Caulfield, a disinformation expert at the University of Alberta in Canada, said.
While these conspiracy theories become commonplace, whether echoed by Fox News pundits, Dutch farmers, british lawmakers o Austrian nationalists: Caulfield warns that they remain extreme and extravagant.
“One of the remarkable things is the normalization of the hardest conspiracy theories. This is not like light conspiracy theory, this is hardcore conspiracy theory,” he said.
As the world grapples with rising temperatures and climate migration, more and more groups suspicious of the government’s motives will resist green measures and how they affect their lives, he warned.
In November, Duncan Enright, transport director for Oxfordshire county council, which covers a prosperous and largely rural part of southern England, suggested a pilot scheme to reduce traffic on six congested roads through the city of Oxford. He traffic filter plans spearheaded by Enright, they were intended to encourage drivers to use the ring road to get around town rather than across it.
Weeks later, Enright said he was receiving death threats, mainly through social media, but also in emails and phone calls, a target of activists who say green measures are nothing more than an instrument of an evil state and his secret sponsors. Enright was accused of responding to a cabal of globalist elites to subjugate the population and trap them in their neighborhoods.
“People showed up at a couple of our meetings and talked about things that had nothing to do with this at all, describing why climate change didn’t exist. Very strange and quite alarming.
The language used by some who oppose 15 minute cities can be extreme and even violent.
Nigel Farage, the far-right populist and former Brexit Party leader who ran unsuccessfully for Parliament seven times, said on Twitter last week: «Mark my words, this is not going to end 20mph zones and low-rise neighborhoods. traffic, no no, this is the start of the weather lockdowns.”