DST - Why actually?
When the sun slowly gains strength after the dark season and lets us get more of its pleasant warmth, the European Union shows itself united again and turns hands at the same time: The annual changeover to Central European Summer Time (CEST) is scheduled for the last Sunday in March. Loved by few, hated by many, summer time has been an integral part of our seasonal calendar since 1980. On the one hand, with the introduction of the CEST, Germany bowed to the pressure of the other European states, which had been practicing the CEST for some time, and on the other hand, against the background of the first oil crisis, it was hoped that the time change would result in efficient energy savings.
What speaks in favour of the DST, what in disfavour?
An important reason for the introduction of summer time was always the energy saving through less use of artificial light.
Although there is some evidence that this saving does not occur in total, an undisputed advantage is that there is more daylight during the time when most people are active. This means that even after work, there is still one hour more sunshine during summer time than would be the case without it.
The closer a country is to the poles, the greater the effect, since the difference in sunshine hours between summer and winter increases with increasing distance from the equator.
Many studies show that there is an increase in road accidents, especially shortly after the changeover to summer time.
On the other hand, summer time seems to lead to an overall decrease in it, as peak traffic times are more in the daylight phase.
For local and long-distance public transport, the time change for keeping to timetables is of course a challenge. However, this is now mastered very routinely, so that it is at least not a very heavyweight argument against the time change. (more on this under time changeover and traffic).
Maybe we should just keep summer time?
The effects of the time change are very complex and it is very difficult to weigh them up. The increase in accidents at work immediately after the changeover and the fact that many workers are complaining about fatigue and concentration problems these days speak against the changeover - with corresponding consequences for productivity (more on this under time changeover and work). On the other hand, workers can enjoy more daylight during summer time (provided they have an outdoor workplace or at least near a window). which is also good for concentration. In addition, they can enjoy even more free time in the light after work, which in turn should promote general satisfaction. In addition, there are many voices in the business world in favour of the summer time regulation, since the longer daylight free time in your opinion also leads to more money being spent on leisure activities - which in turn benefits the business community and thus also creates jobs.
Studies show that in the days following the changeover to summer time, an increased heart attack rate occurs. An increased suicide rate is also reported. In addition, there is the increased rate of accidents both in road traffic and in the household and at work in the days after the change - not to mention minor problems such as daytime fatigue and concentration problems. (more on this under Time change and Health)
The bottom line is that the health aspects are clearly against the changeover.
The hoped-for saving of energy through less need for artificial lighting cannot be confirmed. In addition, there is an increased demand for energy both through greater consumption of heating energy and also increased use of air conditioning systems. (more on this under time changeover and energy)
Since artificial lighting has also become much more energy-efficient in recent years and is mainly provided by electrical energy, which is increasingly fed from regenerative energy sources, energy consumption speaks against the time change.
Goodbye summer time - but how?
As simply as the CEST has come, we will not get rid of it again. Summer time is an EU directive which regulates the CEST permanently and EU-wide for all member states. Individual states have no choice but to escape the regulation at national level.
The only way to abolish the annual scourge of time change is through a European citizens' initiative. In such an action, at least one million Union citizens from at least a quarter of the Member States must sign against the time change. It is a request to the European Commission to propose the abolition of the time changeover. However, the Commission is not obliged to propose the legislation. Accordingly, it may also express a reasoned refusal. It therefore seems to be a major step to abolish CEST, because even the organisation of such an extensive collection of signatures often exceeds the amount of work that can be done by smaller organised groups.