Moving the clock forward an hour is an old habit that is already tiring many in Mexico. The measure that has been implemented since 1996 and that consists of advancing the clock on the first Sunday of April and turning it back on the last Sunday of October of each year, seems to have filled the plate for a good part of the population, but above all for various political actors, among them, the president of Mexico.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador does not like summer time and has been expressing his disagreement with the time change for years. “Savings were talked about, but it was not shown that electricity was really saved,” said the president, who has commissioned studies from the Ministry of Energy to check if there are energy savings, one of the arguments he gave at the time. the Government of Mexico.
The head of state has several allies who support his refusal to continue with the time change in the country. In the first place, the decision of the United States Senate to end the time change and stay in the summer, a decision that must be endorsed by Congress and the president, Joe Biden. Later, his allies in the Mexican Congress. The morenista deputy Gerardo Fernández Noroña presented an initiative to repeal various articles of the Time System Law that governs the country. “There are plenty of scientific, health and other reasons, it is time to stop attacking the population in general to benefit a few,” said the politician.
On the other hand, the PRD deputy Olga Luz Espinosa has also registered a proposal to end summer time in 2023. “We can point out that summer time has not influenced the country’s growth by estimating that energy savings would bring increased productivity and growth”, exposes the legislator in her presentation of reasons to repeal the articles of the Law.
False savings and impact on health: the arguments against
From an energy point of view, the reason for summer time is to take advantage of more sunlight and thus use less lights in houses and buildings. “To the extent that natural light can be used, less power is turned on in the house, and peak demand is the maximum stress that the electrical system has, in summer it is the peak season, that is why ways to lower stress to the system”, he explains in an interview Rosanety Barriosindependent energy analyst.
The truth is that there is no conclusive data on energy savings. According to the Trust for the Saving of Electric Energy (FIDE), in 2018, the last data available before the López Obrador Government began, the saving in electricity consumption was 945 gigawatts, with which “592,000 could be supplied. houses for an entire year, or power 8.3 million fluorescent lamps for 24 hours for an entire year,” says the agency.
However, this saving is not reflected in the rate paid by users, an item that Deputy Espinosa has put on the table in this debate. Eleazar Castro Pérez, an independent energy consultant, indicates that in order to assess whether there is really an energy saving, the application of summer time would have to be suspended. “It is not the same as in the United States or in European countries, because the further north you are, the sunlight conditions change. Yes, there are certain benefits of having one more hour of light in the afternoons”, says the expert in an interview.
Additionally, if the United States approves getting rid of the time change and remaining in the summer time, one might wonder if Mexico would remain in the winter time or would also move to the time with more light permanently. “The most important trade relationship is with the US, something that should be analyzed,” says Barrios.
Perhaps the most important saving is not economic, but environmental. A study by the National Institute of Electricity and Clean Energies indicates that in 2006, the application of summer time prevented the emission of 1,427 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and there was a reduction in fuel consumption for the generation of electricity of 2,754 million barrels of oil. “It is worth considering whether, in the face of climate change, the implementation of summer time does not have as many benefits as in the past or if it has more,” says analyst Barrios.
Another reason to say goodbye forever to this schedule revolves around the health of Mexicans. It is not only about the disorientation caused by having an extra hour of light, but about the performance that human beings have. “There is medical evidence that, as a consequence of such modification, sleep disturbances are generated by affecting the heart rate and increasing the feeling of tiredness, irritability or mood swings,” says deputy Fernández Noroña.
However, these reasons are not conclusive either. A study by the Sleep Disorders Clinic of the Faculty of Medicine of the UNAM indicates that there are no direct implications of the time change in the patterns of poor quality sleep that some people experience. “It should be clarified that this has been observed mainly in patients with sleep disorders, such as those who suffer from insomnia, work at night or rotate shifts,” says Ulises Jiménez Correa, head of the clinic.
The enemies of daylight saving time
Although this measure has been applied on the first Sunday of April for 26 years, the States of Sonora and Quintana Roo, while 33 municipalities of the northern border strip implement the measure on the second Sunday of March to harmonize the time with US cities. With these applications, Mexico is the only country that has two different dates to advance the clocks.
Mexico is not the only country that is considering abandoning the time change forever. The European Commission presented a proposal aimed at eliminating time changes throughout the EU the following year, after a consultation in which 84% of the 4.6 million European citizens surveyed were in favor of abandoning this policy. However, it is not yet clear which countries would join this decision.
At the international level, not all countries change the time twice a year, but it is a practice that is carried out mainly in Europe, with the exception of Iceland and Turkey, and in North America. In South America, only Chile and Paraguay continue to adhere to the time change, while in Asia, almost no country applies it, except for Iran, Palestine, Syria and Jordan. For their part, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and much of Africa have never joined this measure.
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