From Iceland — Proposal On Changing The Clock Hangs In The Balance

Proposal On Changing The Clock Hangs In The Balance

Published May 14, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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A parliamentary proposal to begin setting the clock back an hour in the winter is being contested in committee. The Welfare Committee chairperson is not certain if the proposal will make it back to parliament.

MBL reports 11 MPs from every parliamentary party have supported a proposal that would have Icelanders set their clocks back by one hour in the winter. Currently, Iceland, Russia and Belarus are the only European countries which do not do this.

While the prospect of being able to wake up to something like sunlight during the dark winter months may be appealing to some, the proposal’s passage is far from a done deal.

“I don’t know what the disposition of the matter will be,” committee chairperson Sig­ríður Ingi­björg­ Inga­dótt­ir told reporters. “We don’t have a lot of room for discussion. We have to assess whether or not there’s a willingness to vote the matter from committee [and back to parliament].”

The committee has heard testimony from numerous experts on the subject, including everybody from sleep researchers, Icelandair, and the Golf Association of Iceland.

The proposal points out that the Icelandic clock has been set to a kind of “permanent summertime” since 1968, and is never set forward nor back over the years. This, the proposal contends, causes all kinds of problems.

“Due to this anachronism, most Icelanders are familiar with the chilling feeling of having to wake up for work or school in total darkness for a large part of the year,” the proposal contends. “In reality, it is still night in Iceland, compared to the path of the Sun, when Icelanders go to work at 8:00 or 8:30 by the current clock. If the clock was set back by one hour, the mornings would be brighter well into November, and would begin to be bright again in late January.”

The proposal argues that our unchanging clocks affect our health, which in turn puts pressure on the health care system, as “Icelanders take more medication for depression and sleep than neighbouring countries”. In addition, changing the clocks would put Icelandic time more in harmony with how time is adjusted in numerous other countries around the world.

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