Looking back to World War II, very much in our minds as this year we commemorated a number of anniversaries of some monumental historic events of that period, illustrates how we could do it differently.
In WWII we had "double summer time" (DST). So why was this? It was simply to save vital energy resources for the War effort. In fact, all combatants on both sides quickly adopted DST. In the UK we extended summer time for the entire year and later added double summer time (two hours advanced) in the summer months.
When World War II ended, some countries abandoned their wartime DST while others continued it into the post war years. Britain reverted to its pre-war policy of British Summer Time, except during a fuel crisis (now here's a clue to its importance) in 1947 when it temporarily used double summer time again.
One of the great advantages is the amount of energy saved just by adjusting the whole country's time. So why not just harmonise the UK with European time, which has always been one hour ahead of us? Geographically, significant parts of continental Europe are on our time-band anyway.
According to researchers at Cambridge University's department of engineering, using modelling with help from National Grid, that this simple but highly effective measure could save at least 447,000 tonnes of CO2. That is equivalent to more than 50,000 cars driving all the way around the world and could be saved each year mainly by reducing the need for artificial lighting. Basically it would save energy and save money!
A study by the Transport Research Laboratory showed that a potential 100 lives could be saved each year by making the roads safer as well as preventing hundreds of serious injuries. This could save the NHS around ￡138 million a year through reducing road casualties.
The Policy Studies Institute say it would lead to the creation of 60,000-80,000 new jobs in leisure and tourism, bringing an extra £2.5-3.5 billion into the economy each year and reduce crime and the fear of crime. It would also "make the nation happier", including reducing the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) often attributed to people feeling depressed.
The Sports Council has added its weight, saying it would make people healthier and tackle obesity by giving people more time to exercise and play sport outside in the evening. Other sports bodies have backed the cause, including the Football Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Lawn Tennis Association. From my own experience as a rugby coach, an extra hour of light in the evenings would give grassroots sport a big boost. I was always concerned about the energy use and safety of using our half adequate floodlights anyway.
What could be simpler than doing nothing and leaving the clocks alone? I do acknowledge that for some farmers this would be an adjustment as would perhaps some areas of northern Scotland. But then people of Scotland could make up their own minds as part of devolved democracy.
This issue of adjusting the clocks twice year could be eliminated at a stroke of a pen and would cost nothing but a small amount of parliamentary time. It would send a fantastic message that dealing with climate change can be good for the economy, jobs and for society as a whole.