Daylight saving time: Why are the clocks changed twice a year?
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The clocks will change in the UK at 1am on Sunday, March 29. They will remain in the British Summer Time period for several months until they are put back one hour at 2am on October 25. There is more daylight in the evenings and less in the mornings.
Clocks change during the spring and autumn each year.
Bringing forward and turning back the clocks is a tradition which began long ago, dating back to 1916.
The practice began after an Edwardian builder William Willett suggested in 1907 the idea of British Summer Time in a bid to stop Britons wasting valuable daylight hours sleeping.
He published a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight” to inspire people to get out of bed earlier by changing the nation’s clocks.
However, his idea was not brought into law until some years later, with the Summer Time Act of 1916.
When we move the clocks backwards an hour in the autumn, we effectively transfer an hour of daylight from evening to morning.
This is arguably more useful to people.
The opposite happens in the spring, with an hour being moved to the mornings as the sun rises earlier.
Daylight saving time is specifically the period between spring and autumn when you get an extra hour of daylight in the evening.
Each March, several countries change their clocks by one hour.
Historically, this was important because people did not have electricity or other means to enable work beyond daylight hours.
It was important therefore to take full advantage of all the daylight hours during the day.
The advantage of shifting daylight back and forth between spring evenings and fall mornings might really only be felt in light-starved countries at Northern latitudes.
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However, in recent years, the prospect of scrapping the system has been put forward.
In March 2019, the European Parliament voted by 410 to 192 in favour of ending the practice of seasonal time shifts.
Most countries discontinued this practice after the war and restarted it during the Second World War and its immediate aftermath.
Which countries change clocks?
Fewer than 40 percent of countries around the globe currently apply daylight savings time switches.
It was originally practised in more than 140 countries.
Around 70 countries still switch times every year including:
- All European Union countries
- Most of North America
- Parts of South America
- The Levant
- New Zealand
- Parts of Australia.
Most Islamic countries do not use daylight saving time because during Ramadan it can mean the fasting is delayed until later in the day.
In Morocco, daylight savings time is suspended during the fast.
Iran also uses daylight saving time but does not discontinue it during Ramadan.
Most of east Asia and Africa does not use daylight saving time.
This year, the European parliament voted to scrap daylight saving time by 2021.
However, this has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If ratified, ending daylight saving for the EU could mean more legislative issues for UK/EU negotiations.
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