ISD’s Head of Climate Research and Policy, Jennie King, spoke to CNN about the origin of the 15-minute city conspiracy and why it’s causing such an uproar on social media. Jennie explained how following the initial 2020 lockdowns, certain actors were motivated to weigh in on COVID-restrictions, claiming governments wanted to limit freedoms in the name of climate action.
The term ‘climate lockdown’ was pushed by right-wing think tanks and other media figures, eventually falling into more extreme conspiracy communities like QAnon-affiliated groups and anti-vaccine groups, Jennie said.
Following the pandemic, ordinary people with genuine concerns about government overreach bought into it too.
“Disinformation is opportunistic,” especially when it has to do with climate, Jennie said. Anything can become a target when an issue starts to receive attention, and a host of different actors can “flood into the space.”
But casting 15-minute cities as part of a huge conspiracy has worrying long-term implications for climate action, she warned. Local and national governments ‘may find it very hard to implement any policies that even touch on the climate crisis’.