Conspiracy-minded social media accounts rehashed a tired claim about the World Economic Forum (WEF) in late July 2023 — that, per Nicole Schwab (the daughter of that organization's founder and chairman), the group would be mandating "climate lockdowns" in the near future:
The WEF is an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that, it says, "engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas." While the organization has no actual governmental power to institute any of the policies it is alleged to be forcing on the populace, the prominence of its members and the wealth of the companies it works with have made it the source of myriad conspiracy theories.
"Climate lockdown" claims, frequently leveled against the WEF and other governments, are growing in popularity. The basic notion is that COVID-19 lockdowns were a test by elites to see how much tyranny they could level against the global populace without resistance, and that lockdowns predicated on climate emergencies would be next.
This conspiracy theory gained wider exposure in February 2022, when The Hill published an opinion piece by writer Kristin Tate titled "Coming Soon: Climate Lockdowns?" The piece, citing vague climate initiative ideas or statements linked to Bill Gates and the Red Cross as evidence, argued:
The past two years have been a checklist for the worst impulses of government and public sentiment. COVID allowed for supposedly temporary measures to morph into two years of "emergency" restrictions. But what if COVID was only the opening act, and another proclaimed crisis is the main event?
Implementing significant but partial restrictions, one by one, in the name of the common good can allow for encompassing government control that results in relatively little backlash. Fear over climate change could lead to long-term soft lockdowns, given the precedent of immense growth of government power and significant support for sweeping state actions.
As reported by NBC News in July 2023, people who promote these claims are "a growing group that evolved out of anti-vaccine protests and has energized a campaign against environmental measures across Britain and elsewhere." Many pushing these claims conflate the concept of a "15-minute city" with WEF-mandated lockdowns, as reported by Logically Facts:
15-minute cities, or polycentric neighborhoods, aim to offer basic services, including healthcare, public transport, and recreational spaces, no more than a quarter-hour walk from home. However, despite this proposed convenience, conspiratorial beliefs about the concept are rife. Supporters of the conspiracy believe that the World Economic Forum – a supposed network of evil elites – will remove people's freedoms and lock them in their homes under the pretext of climate change.
As a result, the term "climate lockdown" has been a magnet for conspiracy-minded social media users, and this fact is regularly exploited by clickbait conspiracy outlets. Among the most prolific of these outlets, a network of websites currently running under the moniker The People's Voice, is responsible for the claim shared widely on social media that Schwab's daughter made any mention of a "climate lockdown."
The headline claim of that story does not match, in any sense, the statement from which it is allegedly derived. Nicole Schwab is a member of the World Economic Forum and the head of a climate-based initiative under its roof. In a roundtable discussion, she referenced a 2020 WEF initiative known as the "Great Reset," explaining that the pandemic exposed weaknesses about how the world prepares for disaster and opportunities to prepare for the next disaster:
This crisis has shown us that first of all, things can shift very rapidly when we put our minds to it and when we feel the immediate emergency to our livelihoods. And second, that, clearly the system … that we had before, is not sustainable. So I see it as a tremendous opportunity to really, to have this Great Reset and to use the huge flows … of money, to use the increased levers that policymakers have today in a way that was not possible before, to create a change that is not incremental, but that we can look back and we can say, this is the moment where we really started to position nature at the core of the economy.
Because she never mentioned climate lockdowns in those statements and never stated that they were "coming whether you like it or not," we have rated this assertion as "False."