14 December 2022
On December 3, Jo Nova penned an article, Climate lockdowns coming? You will be tracked in your suburb and happy about it which caused an outburst of alarm.
Casually dubbed ‘climate lockdowns’, it involves a bizarre traffic experiment in Oxfordshire described as an ‘anti-frequent flyer program’ where the local council intends to create a transport social credit scheme that punishes users for taking their cars outside six designated zones. These are policed by cameras and gates leaving residents effectively ‘locked down’ to ‘save the climate’.
The deeper you read into the proposal, the clearer it becomes that councillors were tired of trying to convince people to use public transport in line with self-inflicted ‘green goals’. Instead of realising that bikes and buses aren’t for everyone, these miniature dictators have chosen to force the issue with surveillance and fines.
Attempting to validate their decision in the eyes of an angry public (many of whom thought the proposal was some kind of joke) has been more difficult. Feedback to the proposal included comments such as:
‘The scheme will cause outright chaos.’
‘You are destroying communities and businesses, and the heart of Oxford.’
‘Everyone will be disadvantaged regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. Well done, you’ve ruined Oxford for everyone.’
‘The council have laid out who they believe should get permits and have just gone by what is correct in the days of WOKE that is why a hard-working person who needs to drive to work maybe miles away can only do so 100 days a year at cannot use their cars at weekends?’
Even the ‘Woke’ are unhappy, with one person commenting:
‘People need to have the option to drive places if they are minorities in sex, gender, race, religion etc. because public transport & cycling/walking leaves people massively open to discrimination, harassment and even assault.’
Very few are buying the ‘Covid made us do it’ approach as listed in The surprising stickiness of the “15-minute city”, which is the World Economic Forum’s love letter about why the world should embrace the ‘safety’ of a cell-like city:
‘With Covid and its variants keeping everyone home (or closer to home than usual), the 15-minute city went from a “nice-to-have” to a rallying cry.’
Strange. I don’t remember anyone desperate to retain the 5km Covid lockdown zones – and yet that is the argument presented without contest in dozens of urbanisation papers put forward by the United Nations.
In an interesting twist, 15-minute cities have painted themselves as the opposite of the more familiar ‘smart cities’, accusing the smart city Utopia of being a ‘soulless failure’ even though both projects have the same World Economic Forum parent and many cities – like Melbourne and London – appear on both the 15-minute and smart city list.
In truth, these two city structures are manifestations of the same idea – excessive government overreach where one model controls movement and the other stalks its citizens digitally. They are symbiotic projects – Net Zero parasites latching onto our metropolises until they die. At no point have our political leaders been stopped by the media and asked why they are inviting unelected international organisations to ‘plan’ our cities.
This nightmare idea, although attributed to the World Economic Forum, is not their original. To stop this toxic global urban planning machine, we have to find the roots and sever them.
When the United Nations floated its ‘Sustainability Goals’ in 2015, no one paid much attention to Number 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Why would they? The 17 Sustainability Goals replaced the defunct 8 Millennial Goals, whose only purpose was to be used as conversation fodder at endless international talkfests where world leaders nodded along to noble promises about ‘eradicating extreme poverty’ while peddling arms deals under the table.
Instead of this new batch of Sustainability Goals ending up in the waste-bin of bureaucracy where they belong, an empowered United Nations – backed by socialist nations with questionable geopolitical motives – has fatally damaged the Western economic model.
For example, in order to pursue the all-powerful Goal 13: Climate Action – governments have introduced Net Zero policies on the advice of the UN that have rendered Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities, and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions completely unworkable.
Forcing signatories of the Sustainability Goals to pursue ‘renewable energy’ has led to widespread energy poverty and needlessly exacerbated the inflation crisis. It has also made plenty of corporations involved in the UN a tidy fortune and there is no reason to assume ideas like the ‘15-minute city’ won’t have a similar crowd of beneficiaries waiting to cash-in on citizen misery.
Sustainable Cities – the larger movement that spawned 15-minute cities – is a solution to a problem that only exists because of the UN’s process of encouraging political leaders to make private agriculture economically nonviable for families. This has resulted in a mass exodus toward cities (and it is about to happen again with thousands of Dutch farmers forced from their land to meet Net Zero targets).
With the population increasingly condensing into cities – crushed by unsustainable and unregulated migration from the third world drawn to the West’s welfare system – the United Nations has suddenly decided that urbanisation is a problem that has to be ‘solved’ by 2030 because cities are responsible for ‘70 per cent of global carbon emissions’ and ‘60 per cent of resources use’. Obviously… An empty paddock uses less resource than a skyscraper.
The UN’s main concern is that ‘hunger and fatalities could rise significantly in urban areas’. A reasonable government could fix this by tearing up Net Zero regulations and allowing farmers back onto the land to grow food, but inner-city bureaucracy is allergic to reason and married to the idea that ‘farmers are killing the climate’.
Enter last week’s hysteria where the world at large were made aware of Oxfordshire county council which has volunteered itself as a guinea pig for the climate agenda.
The detail of locking a city down isn’t as difficult as you’d imagine. London’s ‘congestion taxes’ are not so different to Oxford’s proposed ‘traffic filters’. Replicating in an Australian city may be as simple as expanding our tollways by adding ‘environment charges’ or sending fines to anyone who travels into the CBD too many times. Is it really that hard to imagine Sydney’s Clover Moore salivating over a climate change revenue-raising tax that frees up more bike lanes?
The BBC praised the imposition on Oxford by saying it would ‘cut unnecessary journeys and making walking, cycling, and public and shared transport the “natural first choice”’.
Telling residents where they can drive in their own town using the ‘experimental traffic regulation order’ sounds like something lifted from the height of communist rule in Europe, but the proposal was approved on November 29 by the council’s cabinet. Of course, a selection of the council’s favourite identity groups are being granted exemptions while ordinary, hard-working individuals who run businesses are expected to cop all the restrictions and pay the bulk of the fines – no doubt because they are seen as the city’s ‘evil capitalists’, even if they don’t say that last part out loud.
If you’re clinging onto the ideology that this measure isn’t about control – it’s about ‘saving the planet’, Oxford’s council admits that the system will probably have the opposite effect.
‘Everywhere in the city can still be reached by car, although car drivers without a permit will need to use a different route during the hours of operation of the traffic filters.’
Angry Oxford residents pointed out that the ring road would end up a nightmare, with smaller roads becoming heavily congested as vehicles try to pick their way around ridiculous ‘traffic filters’ incurring longer journeys and using more fuel – thus adding to the total emissions, rather than reducing them.
This cult of university bike riders and small veneer of individuals whose lifestyle allows them to wander between casual work and the local cafe, exists detached from the reality of wider society that allows their comfortable niche to exist. Placing restrictions on the businesses and workforce that creates these idyllic lifestyles will not result in ‘safe, clean, cities’ – it’ll create expensive, slow, unworkable nightmares which people will quickly abandon.
But this hasn’t stopped the UN from convincing politicians that in this ‘wonderful globalised world’ people should be forced to live inside 15 or 20 minute ‘bubbles’ and encouraged not to venture out because doing so could ‘endanger the planet’.
Embracing ‘accessible neighbourhoods’ is really a way of concealing – via pleasant language – the government’s intention to trap people inside microcosms, locking us in very real cells and punishing us financially if we choose to wander beyond the city walls.
The ‘climate crisis’ and Covid pandemic were jointly credited for the ‘accelerated need’ to implement the 15-minute city. In July of 2020, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group officially published their intention to sign onto the project as part of the World Economic Forum’s notorious ‘Build Back Better’ mantra.
The focus of C40 Cities is not the comfort and liberty of the citizens, but ‘climate change’ and it is chaired by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Its president is Michael Bloomberg, former US President Bill Clinton is a founding partner, and Mark Watts is the executive director. Far from ‘building back better’, Sadiq Khan’s London is gaining a reputation as ‘stabby central’, where citizen crime has resulted in a mass exodus of native Londoners who want nothing to do with his dangerous, dysfunctional, overcrowded, ‘modern city’. Because of ‘Net Zero’ policies, London will be shivering through a winter plagued with blackouts and energy prices ordinary people simply can’t afford. Welcome to the future. Melbourne and Sydney are both on the list of C40 Cities.
What we are watching develop is modern feudalism – a network of tiny city states ruled over by all-powerful councils that act as manner lords, telling the peasants where they can go. Far from ‘revolutionising the way we think about urban homes’, it has fuelled a deep regression back to the Medieval period. We’re even being forced to walk between towns and carry our goods by hand.
Forbes credits French-Columbian urbanist Carlos Moreno with the project. Moreno is famous for wanting to ‘disrupt the traditional car-focused approach’ to cities and was awarded the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award for his nonsense. He, in turn, credits American-Canadian journalist Jane Jacobs as a chief influence – Jacobs was the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation award to ‘produce a critical study of city planning’ in America and author of the oft-criticised The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
However, their romantic view of how cities work ignores how they actually operate. Oxford has made a similar mistake. In trying to reforge the memory of a car-less pedestrian city, they have forgotten that a modern city cannot function without the trappings of efficient private transport. What of the elderly, who cannot mount a bike? The mothers trying to herd their children around with a week’s worth of shopping? Women coming home late, worried for their safety? Or anyone, really, in the rain or snow? Idealism is not reality, and civilisation must function in the world as it is – not what academia prefers it to be.
‘Adopting a 15-minute city strategy means striving for an urban model that allows everyone, in every neighbourhood, to meet most of their daily needs within a short walk or bike ride of their home. It creates a ‘human-scale’ city composed of vibrant, people-friendly, ‘complete’ neighbourhoods…’ wrote someone who has never had to work a day in their lives, or traipse to the shops in the Australian heat.
The privilege of those behind these initiatives reveals how little real-world experience they have. Cities are always aiming towards efficiency. Town planners – real town planners – sought to move traffic and people through while maximising services. They certainly didn’t sit around plotting ways to deliberately congest areas or trap citizens inside bubbles. It’s complete madness, anti-human, and woefully impractical.
There is nothing ‘smart’ or ‘convenient’ about 15-minute cities – even though that is what their name is meant to imply. These days you’re ‘dumb’ if you don’t want the government to watch you, foolish if you enjoy privacy, greedy if you partake in capitalism, and ‘backward’ if you want don’t want the UN throwing a few cockroaches onto your Christmas BBQ.
Green bureaucracy is getting very good at phrasing irrational demands as ‘social requirements’ to such a point where the peasants are proclaimed ‘climate criminals’ if they want to own a personal car, while the elite political class hop around the world in private jets, giving themselves awards for saving the planet.
At what point do Australians stand up and say, ‘Actually, no thanks mate…’ to inner-city councillors indulging in their Big Brother fantasies? When is ‘enough’ actually enough?
Are we going to stop at 15-minute cities, or will we go all the way to climate lockdowns…
Malcolm Roberts is a One Nation Senator for Queensland.