Should We Still Spring Forward and Fall Back?

old clock photo


It's that time of the year again: set the clocks back an hour and walk around in darkness and misery after 4 p.m. every day for a few months. It's time for the annual debate on the subject too.

A number of different groups are waking up to the fact that keeping the time the same all year 'round could save money and be better for the environment.

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According to the Guardian, a government committee in the UK was told that electricity demand was lower at peak times when the evenings were lighter. By keeping the clocks at British Summer Time (BST), peak electricity demand could be reduced by the "equivalent of the hourly output of a large power station providing power to around 100,000 homes."

A report on the impact on London shows benefits to business accruing from the change because London would then be aligned with central Europe. Tourism could increase by hundreds of millions of dollars because there would be more sightseeing time in the afternoon and evening and more jobs could be created in the industry.

A study by a Cambridge academic found that leaving the clocks at the same time would lead to a reduction of carbon emissions of almost 500,000 tons a year, which is equal to taking 185,000 cars off the road. Her analysis showed that "had the clocks not been put back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in winter, electricity savings of 885 GWhs of electricity could have been achieved. Great Britain's average daily demand for electricity could have been lower, with a reduction in peak demand for electricity of up to 4.3% during periods of high demand. The electricity wasted on GMT could have supplied 200,000 households and around 447,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions could have been avoided."

flood lit photo

Photo: meath gaa

The Lighter Later campaign is supported by a number of sporting associations including football, cricket and lawn tennis. They say that there are more opportunities for outdoor sport in the daylight: "With over 80% of football played on public land, an extra hour of daylight would give the grassroots of the game a huge boost. More chance to get outside and play can only be good for the future of football in this country."

A report prepared by a Scottish academic proposes moving the clocks forward by an hour in winter and two hours in summer. He says that this would reduce road deaths in the evenings, increase tourism, and save energy and cut carbon emissions as well as decreasing muggings and crime.

However the Scottish government doesn't agree, arguing that mornings would not be light until 10 a.m. in mid-winter. Children in the north would be going to school in darkness for at least five months of the year.

In a huge sea (or should that be time) change of policy, the National Farmers Union for Scotland has said today that it will not oppose a campaign to permanently move the clocks forward by an hour - if it will benefit the UK as a whole. The director is quoted as saying: "If people can put a good argument forward to us as to why there should be change, we're not going to be the ones who stand in the way of that change, if it's for everyone else's benefit."

More on Daylight Savings
Daylight Savings Extended for 2007
Argentina Announces Energy Saving Plan

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