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 capitalize on any observed behaviour changes that may mitigate climate change.
For this commentary, the authors describe changes in data relating to transportation behaviours concerning working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic across the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. The identified changes are presented in a concept map, suggesting links between the changes in behaviour and levels of carbon emissions.
The authors consider these changes in relation to a comprehensive and easy-to-understand model of behaviour, the Opportunity, Motivation Behaviour (COM-B) model, 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.