It is unlikely that the US election result alone can derail climate-change mitigation and clean-energy solutions (see also Nature 539, 337–339; 2016). The global momentum in policy and technology is in large part beyond the reach of the next US administration.
Policies to support emissions reduction and clean-energy expansion are already in place around the world. As well as their impact on climate change, these cut pollution, create jobs and boost national competitiveness. These are strong reasons against policy reversal in China and elsewhere.
Some US federal regulations, such as fuel-economy standards, are not easily overturned. In the electricity sector, several US states are well positioned to make up for changes to federal policies that could otherwise limit climate progress, at least over the next 4–8 years.
This policy momentum is partly due to the success of past policies in driving down the cost of renewables, through technological innovation and economies of scale in private firms. This has encouraged further growth in markets and in worldwide commitments to support decarbonization, which can continue despite new uncertainties about US federal policy.