The United States has led the global environmental movement since the 1970s, albeit intermittently. If it withdraws support for multilateral treaties under President Trump, the environment will not be doomed.
China, for example, could step into the lead (see D. Victor Nature 539, 495; 2016). China is committed to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which the United States has still not ratified, and to many other international environmental treaties (F. Wu J. Chin. Polit. Sci. 14, 383–406; 2009). If other countries support China, environmental gains can continue — irrespective of a weakened US contribution.
A Trump government that is less concerned about the environment could create space for strengthened independent initiatives, such as commitments to sustainability, by subnational units of government, cities, companies and community groups (N. Lutsey and D. Sperling Energy Policy 36, 673–685; 2008).
And if Trump's promised trade protectionism occurs, scientists could help to shape policies that safeguard the environment — such as by restricting imports from regions that do not uphold good environmental practices.