Daylight savings is like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic
Most people agree that changing the clocks twice a year is a royal pain in the ass. But the most important question is this: Does daylight savings actually save energy, thereby reducing the impact of climate change?
Daylight savings costs energy
Daylight savings was first introduced by Germany during World War 1, with the intention of cutting coal use. It came and went in many countries since then, and is still in use in many places. Multiple assessments have been made and most concluded that any energy savings were negligible. However, new research has found that putting the clocks back (as happens in Ireland on 30 October 2022) will cost the average household over €400! Aoife Foley, a professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast, who specialises in clean energy research, has estimated Irish people would save €1.28 a day by having brighter evenings this winter if the clocks are not put back one hour on the last Sunday of October. Savings would be generated by people getting home from work earlier, with a resulting reduction in energy use. This equates to at least a 2.6 TWh (terawatt hours) reduction in electricity consumption, with the majority of Ireland’s electricity generated by fossil fuels.
Didn’t the EU vote to abolish daylight savings?
The EU voted to abolish daylight savings in 2019, then the pandemic came, and Brexit messed things up further. Some politicians in Ireland complain that if the Republic stops changing the clocks but the UK continues, then there would be two time zones on the island of Ireland. (Explainer: Most of the island of Ireland is a republic and a member of the EU. Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom, which has left the EU.) This should not be an impediment to progress. France has 13 time zones (mostly because of its imperial possessions), while Russia has 11 time zones, and there are many countries with multiple time zones within their borders. The UK is regressing by going back to using imperial measurements (!), so does that mean Ireland should too? Clearly not, as that would be insane.
Meanwhile, the UN climate report says that we are in big trouble
All the climate horrors we’ve witnessed in the past couple of years are a result of the global temperature rising by 1°C. The Paris Treaty aimed to keep us below a 1.5-2°C rise. The UN now says that’s impossible, and we’re on track for a rise closer to 3°C by the end of the century. That means endless catastrophes, with unknown impacts from climate tipping points (such as the melting of permafrost).
As growing climate change impacts are experienced across the globe, the message that greenhouse gas emissions must fall is unambiguous. Yet the Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window – Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies finds that the international community is falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place. Only an urgent system-wide transformation can avoid climate disaster.– UN Emissions Gap Report, 27 October 2022, link below
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