While all the news reports are focussing on how coal literally fuelled the industrial revolution, how at one point, one million miners were working in pits, how Big Coal is now over and heavy industry all but kaput in the UK, no one is really talking about how coal mining built communities, cultures, families, memories. My memories.
I was told to bring gifts to my first Chinese business negotiation. Something British, and expensive. Arriving I indulged in the obligatory double-handed presentation of business cards and studiously examined my counterpart's credentials. 'Give him face' I was told. I was ebullient with esteem, commenting on the seniority of his position and the size of his office.
Last Wednesday I went to Wales. Not for a typically British summer holiday (although we were all wearing waterproofs), but at the invitation of local campaigners of the United Valleys Action Group on the day Caerphilly County Council decided whether to approve or reject a proposed opencast coal mine at Nant Llesg.
With budgets so tight we need to be very selective about how money is spent. Policies that contradict each other and fail to deliver genuine solutions come at a cost. Rather than handing out subsidies to polluting power stations we should be creating investment and job opportunities in the technologies of the future.
We have heard a lot of comment from anti-coal campaigners in the last several months, especially during the public consultation period for the new energy strategy. Their opinion is important to us, as are opinions of all stakeholders. But presenting the EBRD as the last institution that clings to coal and focuses on fossil fuels is incorrect on many levels.