Today is the summer solstice – the longest day, so from here in the days get shorter – in other words it gets darker earlier each night.
When I was a child at school during the ‘winter of discontent’ I vaguely recall some fiddling with British Summer Time by the Government. The idea was to make it lighter in the evening and therefore safer for Kids to walk home from school (yes we used to use our own legs in those days!).
Historically the Government have ‘fiddled’ a few times with Summer Time, (advancing the legal time by one hour during the summer months in order to promote greater efficiency in the use of the daylight hours and of artificial lighting).
Originally introduced as a wartime measure in 1916, this has been continued through peacetime as well, with occasional variations such as double summer time (advancing the clocks by a second hour for part of the summer) in World War 2
The 1970’s test did not find favour and was dropped as an idea. Despite regular comments about it being a ‘good idea’ over the years it has never made it even to a test stage again – although there may now be a better reason to try.
A recent study carried out by Cambridge University on behalf of the 10:10 climate campaign suggested putting clocks forward during winter to an hour ahead of GMT could save almost 500,000 tonnes of CO2.
This would be achieve a number of potential benefits;
It would make evenings lighter and reduce peak electricity demands.
Lighter evenings make us happier, healthier and safe.
Cutting carbon emissions by 450,000 tonnes would be the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off Britain’s roads.
Campaigners also say there would be a boost to leisure activities, which would create jobs in the sector.
10:10, which is running a Lighter Later campaign to have the clocks permanently changed, claims that moving the clocks forward an hour all year could save lives on the roads because there would be fewer accidents in the evenings (although it would be darker in the mornings so there might be more accidents then?). They also say that continuing to move the clocks forward in summer, so they become one hour ahead of British Summer Time – two hours ahead of GMT (as in the Second World War) – could also deliver further carbon savings.
Eugenie Harvey, director of the 10:10 campaign, which aims to get businesses, government and individuals to help cut the UK’s emissions by 10%, said:
“In the UK we love our long summer days. Lighter evenings make us happier, healthier and safe. After today the nights will start drawing in again. We’re renewing our call to the government for a trial of Lighter Later’s proposals.
The research Dr Garnsey has presented only serves to strengthen an already overwhelming argument for change.”
There are some compelling ideas here, I am not convinced the extra hour ahead in Summer is such a good idea. But, adding an hour on permanently in the winter might make life better and save some energy use – surely this is worth trying?