Lawmakers have called upon the European Commission to reevaluate the costs and benefits of the daylight savings time concept. This move could finally abolish the clock adjustment back and forward between winter and summer. Although the resolution it voted on was non-binding, the majority reflected a growing dissatisfaction with a system that has been used by the US, Canada, most of Europe, and regions in Asia, Africa, and South America for decades.
Earlier this week, with a vote of 384 to 153, the European Parliament has decided to take a good look at the data we have on the cost/benefit of Daylight Savings. The vote comes after nearly 70,000 Finnish citizens petitioning to end the now-ancient and obscure practice, according to German-based international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Ireland Member of European Parliament (MEP) Sean Kelly has been working to stop time changes as well.
The claim that setting clocks an hour ahead in spring doesn’t save energy or make societies safer is often used by Daylight Saving opponents. In the past, when lighting a home was the primary driver of electricity consumption, adjusting clocks to take advantage of late-evening sunlight might have made a dent in that consumption. But in today’s world, air conditioning and electronics are also significant portions of electricity demand, and optimizing business hours to coincide with daylight hours doesn’t significantly impact that draw of electricity.
Back in 2014, Russia switched to permanent winter time after a failed experiment that had put clocks on year-round summer time. Russian MPs said permanent summer time had created stress and health problems, especially in northern Russia where mornings would remain darker for longer during the harsh winter months.
During the debate in Strasbourg, France, MEP Karima Delli said moving clocks forward to summer time left people tired and led to increased accidents.
“Studies that show an increase in road accidents or sleep trouble during the time change must be taken seriously”, the French MEP said, adding that estimated energy savings were “not conclusive”.
Research has in fact shown that adjusting to Daylight Saving Time can take a real toll on the sleep habits of some people, and losing an hour of sleep leads to more than eight minutes of “cyberloafing”—that is, wasting time on the Internet.