The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, seeks to change the course of history and now also take a leap in time. This Tuesday the president has sent to Congress the initiative to eliminate the so-called summer time, a rule under which millions of Mexicans advance their clocks one hour at the beginning of April. Although in 2021 the Ministry of Energy reported a saving of 1,138 million pesos, about 55.2 million dollars, for the Executive, the benefit does not compensate for the health problems that the measure entails: sleep problems, memory, depression and there are even studies of its possible relationship with the incidence of heart attacks. In addition, the Executive supports its decision in a survey, whose methodology is unknown, in which 71% of the participants expressed their rejection of the schedule change. Thus, the Executive has taken a step forward and has formally presented its request to Congress to eradicate the controversial time change.
In its beginnings, in the middle of the last century, the movement of the watch was used to take advantage of the hours of natural light and save energy, however, specialists agree that as technological innovation has advanced, this gesture is no longer as crucial in saving electricity. “At the time the summer time model was chosen, lighting had a much stronger impact on the electricity consumption of homes, at that time, it was normal to have 40 or even 60 watt bulbs to illuminate spaces, what can now be done with LED technology with 6 or 8 watts”, says Víctor Ramírez, spokesman for the Mexico, Climate and Energy Platform (PMCE).
The specialist points out that in the data presented by the Ministry of Energy this Tuesday at the National Palace, it will be necessary to consider that 2020 and 2021 were atypical years for industrial activity due to the pandemic and therefore with lower electricity consumption. “Now we will have to do a cost-benefit study comparing these savings with the problems that seem to have been documented in health. If dealing with these health problems is costing you more than energy savings, it seems that it no longer makes any sense to maintain this measure, ”he adds.
Before 2018, the Electricity Savings Trust (Fide) was the body in charge of evaluating the results of summer time. In its 2013-2018 activities report, the trust stated that the measure has demonstrated its efficiency in various parts of the world to promote a culture of energy care. “Summer time allows the use of a greater number of hours of natural light in homes, which allows savings in electricity consumption; on the other hand, the displacement of the demand curve allows savings in energy demand. To this, another element is added in the reduction of the consumption of fossil fuels for the generation of electrical energy, with the consequent reduction of polluting emissions into the atmosphere”, they refer in their analysis. From 2013 to 2018, Fide added economic benefits for this measure for more than 26,000 million pesos.
As of 2018, already in this Administration, the Secretary of Energy assumed command of this analysis and according to its data, in 2021 the saving attributed to summer time was 537 gigawatt-hours, which represented 0.16 % of national consumption, equivalent to 1,138 million pesos. In the presentation of the Government, the Secretary of Energy, Rocío Nahle emphasized that since 1996 summer time has contributed to energy savings of less than 1% per year of national consumption. “There is no impact for which we cannot eliminate daylight savings time,” the federal official assured this Tuesday.
April Moreno, managing partner of the Perceptia21 Energy consultancy, emphasizes that although in opinion there will be many people who support the eradication of summer time, there are no studies to know the impact generated by the measure in the last two decades. “It is a very controversial or contentious issue. At the global level there are no concise studies that have been carried out year after year in all countries to determine the economic savings, a comprehensive study that could say it is very bad or very good. Each country has done its studies and many countries have been leaving. The United States will use daylight saving time. It is very relative because how many people have died or have had serious health problems during all the years that we have had it? It is a political issue, the president loves the issues that give him votes, in the survey that he does, 71% of those surveyed do not agree with daylight saving time, so we return again with the fact that it is a matter of perceptions , of communication, of politics”, ditch.
The Secretary of Health, Jorge Alcocer, supported López Obrador’s decision in his intention to bury the measure after 22 years of validity. “More and more studies show that the differences in time between the social clock and the biological clock challenge health, they even alter it, so if we want to improve our health we should not fight against our biological clock; what is recommended is to return to standard time, which is when the time of the sundial coincides with the time of the social clock, the clock of God, ”he said. According to this Government, since 2001, there have been more than 40 bills presented against summer time by different parliamentary fractions.
The coordinator of the PAN in the Senate, Julen Rementeria, told local media that this initiative is a distraction to avoid more serious problems in the country. The senator for Veracruz maintained that although it has repercussions on the country’s economy, the elimination of summer time is not an urgent issue to discuss and legislate. While the president of the Board of Directors of the Senate, Olga Sánchez Cordero, considered that the content of López Obrador’s initiative must be reviewed promptly and cautiously. The senator herself recalled that, at the time, the implementation of the time change was difficult, because “it took a bit of work to make our physical, physiological adaptation, as well, to certain hours.”
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