Short term outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic have included improved air quality and reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions, while long term repercussions may include a disruption to joint international research efforts, the creation of silos, and the potential for internalizing efforts toward national rather than global goals. In this study, we identified the impacts of reduced mobility on pollutants and emissions, the emergence of nationalist approaches and effects on international cooperation, and how these issues will affect the achievement of global carbon targets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 presents a global short-term crisis and there is a demonstrated global desire and effort to develop a vaccine and effective treatments. Similarly, climate change is also a near future issue, and as a result we need to reduce CO2 emissions rapidly. This review highlights potential policy interventions, which capitalize on learnings from COVID-19, while identifying SDGs 10, 13 and 17 as critical to engendering a successful, cooperative transition toward sustainability. The recognition of the earth as a closed system, demonstrated by the shared impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, may encourage positive future effects on cooperative approaches toward mitigating climate change, another looming crisis for humanity.
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