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Editorial comment

Poetry. You either love it or hate it. There are many different types, all of which can be misunderstood and misinterpreted. This literary genre is a universal form of expression that can evoke both positive and negative opinions, meaning it can be incredibly controversial. Poetry, in this way, draws strong parallels with coal. Media teams and journalists try to tell us all the things we will lose to coal, along with the damaging impact it’s had on the world.

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But – though the industry could be doing more to encourage clean coal technologies – it seems people have forgotten that coal has helped us get where we are today. It has provided power for factories and railways; created gas for lighting; is a key raw material in the production of steel; its derivatives can be used to create medicine and dyes; and it’s the energy source that has generated most of the earth’s electricity. So, this month, I wrote a poem as my comment on the industry, to remind those who have forgotten the importance of coal and the benefits it has brought to the world.

I’ve got a bad reputation. Yes, it appears to be true
But that still doesn’t stop me from being used by you
We disagree a lot. You say I’m the ‘bad guy’
I just somehow wish we could see eye to eye
Because I’m not just the butt of every black morning
In the 19th century – well that’s a different story
And while communities are now being built around mines
It’s no secret the main problem is the toxins supplied
Born from underground, opencast, handling and prep
Something the world will never let me forget

I understand your frustration at what it is I do
As I’m verbally beaten with reminders, black and blue
But see, I’ve been used since cavemen first discovered my secret
To later powering the Industrial Revolution. Now that’s an achievement
Because coal was once king, I’ll have you remember
When it seemed no other fossil fuel was even a contender
And I’ve been around long enough now, powering countries galore
From the US to China, Australia to Singapore
Yes, I’m older than oil. Older than gas. And there’s such a large portion of me still at mass
You say I’ve got a bad reputation, but honestly you can’t blame me for that

Now I know I’m not perfect; I’m really trying to change
But every time I try, all you do is complain
“Clean coal? No such thing!” is what you all cry
The words ‘toxic’ and ‘harmful’ are at the forefront of minds 
I’m still valuable though, despite what’s being said 
Energy, electricity and steel – you’re obsessed
Cos I’m really not as bad as people think, actually 
You’re concerned about the environment? Well, consider HELE
With CCS, scrubbers, low NOx burners at hand 
To reduce CO2, and they’re in high demand 

There are now only few who are sympathetic to my plight
To convince you of my importance, try as I might
But I’ve done a lot for you really, when you list it all down
So why is it taking you so long to come round? 
Because at the end of the day I’m a reliable source
Used 24/7 for all things, of course
But I pledge to you now to try make things right
To reign in my emissions one step at a time
So with all this being said, I have one thing to ask:
Is my reputation still bad? Or do I deserve a second chance?