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Editorial comment

Over the last few years, we have witnessed our fair share of political gambles here in the UK. Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, started the trend with his decision to support a referendum on Scottish independence. On that occasion, the PM's gamble paid off. Just. The following year, during a tightly-fought general election, Cameron promised the British public a vote on its membership of the European Union, should his Conservative party be elected into government. The rest, as they say, is history. After months of campaigning for the UK to remain within the EU, Cameron duly fell on his sword just hours after the results of the referendum were announced, making way for Theresa May to take the reins of the country and, in turn, the impending Brexit negotiations.

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In March, the government triggered Article 50, signalling the start of formal procedures for the UK to leave the EU. A few weeks later, the Conservative party decided to roll the dice once again; calling a snap general election. The reason? To convert the party’s overwhelming lead in the opinion polls into a stronger parliamentary majority that would ultimately strengthen Theresa May’s ability to secure the Brexit deal envisioned by her party.

The gamble did not pay off. The opinion polls narrowed throughout the short election campaign as a rejuvenated Labour party gained momentum under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. In the end, the Conservative party lost its overall majority, leaving the UK with a hung parliament and Theresa May’s premiership in peril. As I write this, the UK has just started its official Brexit negotiations with the EU, despite the cloud of uncertainty looming back home.

Following the results of the UK general election, the UK Petroleum Industry Association’s Director General, Chris Hunt, called for “stability and clarity” over the industry’s operating environment “in order to maintain investor confidence and drive all businesses to grow and thrive.” Michael Burns, Oil and Gas Partner at law firm Ashurst, added: "A hung parliament can only lead to the potential for further uncertainty for an industry that has suffered from that theme over the last few years with the fluctuations in oil and gas prices.”

While a succession of political gambles has left the UK in a sticky situation, across the pond, the Trump administration’s recent bet on leaving the Paris climate accord threatens to have even wider implications. While experts suggest that the withdrawal will not necessarily impact US regulation of carbon emissions, it is undoubtedly a controversial move from the US President. Frank Melum from the Point Carbon team at Thomson Reuters warns: “The US could very well be the one that will lose the most from this withdrawal. Before and after the announcement [...] stakeholders have come out reiterating their support for the Paris Agreement. This includes other large emitters like China, Russia and the EU. But also large companies, including the fossil fuel industry. The strong support of the agreement highlights the investment opportunity the Paris Agreement provides.”

Emissions control is a key topic throughout this issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering, with feature articles looking at emissions of SOX (BASF Corp.), NOX (ClearSign Combustion), and methane (Opgal), as well as emissions from flaring (NEL).

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