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    Review of 'The impact of COVID-19 related regulations and restrictions on mobility and potential for sustained climate mitigation across the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK: A data-based commentary.'

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    The impact of COVID-19 related regulations and restrictions on mobility and potential for sustained climate mitigation across the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK: A data-based commentary.Crossref
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        Rated 3 of 5.
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        Rated 4 of 5.
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        Rated 3 of 5.
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    The impact of COVID-19 related regulations and restrictions on mobility and potential for sustained climate mitigation across the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK: A data-based commentary.

    Human behaviour change is necessary to meet targets set by the Paris Agreement to mitigate climate change. Restrictions and regulations put in place globally to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during 2020 have had a substantial impact on everyday life, including many carbon-intensive behaviours such as transportation. Changes to transportation behaviour may reduce carbon emissions. Behaviour change theory can offer perspective on the drivers and influences of behaviour and shape recommendations for how policy-makers can capitalise on any observed behaviour changes that may mitigate climate change. For this commentary, we aimed to describe changes in data relating to transportation behavioursrelating to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic across the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. We display these identified changes in a concept map, suggesting links between the changes in behaviour and levels of carbon emissions. We consider these changes in relation to a comprehensive and easy to understand model of behaviour, the COM-B, to understand the capabilities, opportunities and behaviours related to the observed behaviour changes and potential policy to mitigate climate change. There is now an opportunity for policy-makers to increase the likelihood of maintaining pro-environmental behaviour changes by providing opportunities, improving capabilities and maintaining motivation for these behaviours.
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      Review information

      10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-SOCSCI.A3ZQK2.v1.RYSJKQ

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

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      Review text

      15th July 2021

      Title:  The impact of COVID-19 related regulations and restrictions on mobility and potential for sustained climate mitigation across the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK: A data-based commentary.

      Authors: Elizabeth Corker, Kaloyan Mitev, Astrid Nilsson, Milan Tamis, Thijs Bouman, Stefan Holmlid, Fiona Lambe, Susan Michie, Matthew Osborne, Reint Jan Renes, Linda Steg, Lorraine Whitmash

      Journal: UCL Open: Environment

      Level of importance: 4/5

      Level of validity: 3/5

      Level of completeness: 4/5

      Level of comprehensibility: 3/5

      Competing interests: None

      Dear Authors and Editor,

      This is an interesting paper highlighting behaviour changes across the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK during 2020 in response to COVID- 19 restrictions and regulations. It aims to understand these changes for potential use in mitigating climate change.

      Here are the main points:

      • First part of introduction (Covid-19 related changes and impacts) could benefit from references to publications on the impacts of Covid-19 on air quality or the environment (reducing carbon emissions etc.). Give some examples and references.
      • As referring to “global warming” as “climate change” will cause confusion while reading, it would be better to use only the word “climate change”.
      • There is a clear change in transportation behaviours, however it would be good to look at total energy and fuel consumptions in these countries to make a good comparison and to clarify whether total consumption shifted from transportation to home usage or not.
      • In the paragraph starting “In April 2020, COVID-19 associated restrictions…”, rephrase the sentence of “By the end of March 2020, global road transport activity was almost 50% below the 2019 average (International Energy Agency, 2020).” Because it does not accurately reflect the IEA report.
      • As mentioned in the paper, there is an increase in electric car sales and a decrease in internal combustion engine car sales. As there is no concrete evidence to show Covid-19 related behavioural changes caused these increases and decreases, it would be good to mention other factors such as shutdowns of the auto industry and suppliers around the world during several weeks due to Covid-19 restrictions. There is a decrease in total car sales due to decline in car production and a lack of availability due to showroom closures. It is not just behaviours of people working from home or changes in transportation. In addition, there is a clear increasing trend in electric vehicle sales over the years. In Europe, sales (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles) increased by over 40% in 2019 compared to 2018 (see the figure (IEA, Global electric car stock, 2010-2019, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/charts/global-electric-car-stock-2010-2019)).
      • Even if there is limited data available, it would be good to define “electric vehicles” in one way. Is it just referring to electric cars, electric bikes, or all of them? There is an inconsistency in the statements:
        • In the Netherlands data: The sales of Electric Vehicles (Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles and Fully Electric Vehicles) increased in 2020 compared to 2019, with sales of Electric Bikes (speed pedelecs) and mopeds (electric and manual) doubling during summer 2020 compared to summer 2019.
        • In Swedish data: Of car sales made, Electric Vehicles accounted for 32.2% compared to 11.3% in 2019.
        • In the UK data: Sales of Electric Vehicles (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) increased by 185.9% and 91.2% respectively.
      • In the paragraph starting “Data from Transport for London showed tube journeys decreased by 94% or 100 million…”’ it is enough to give the changes in percentages only. Give details (changes in million) in another sentence.  Also, define the period of the changes in bus use (Transport of London and Citymapper). Compared to what?
      • After giving all details in the section on countries’ data, it would be good to have a table showing differences and similarities in terms of changes (percentage of people working from home, the use of public transport, etc.) This will make it easy to understand for readers.
      • In Figure 1, it is a bit hard to read at first glance, so increase fonts and image quality.
      • In the paragraph starting “We cannot predict with certainty how citizens will behave…”, it lacks balance, and it would be good to think about some of the what-ifs. For example, some people want to go back to their normal routines (maybe even worse in terms of consuming and travelling etc. as they were stuck at home for a long time) pre-Covid-19.
      • As many people stay at home and work from home during the pandemic, online orders, and shopping (food, electronic, cosmetic, fashion etc.) increased and gave extra pressure on delivery and shipment (many motorbikes and delivery vehicles), It would be good to have a look at data and to think about how this affected the transportation (maybe increasing carbon emission).
      • Finally, even if the conclusion section gives the main arguments, it would be good to make it stronger.

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