BRASILIA – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree on Thursday to abolish daylight savings time (DST) in the giant South American nation, where it has been annual practice since the mid-1980s to advance clocks one hour during the summer as an energy-saving measure.
The president said he based the decision on technical studies showing that DST no longer results in significant energy conservation, though he also pointed to concerns about the negative effect of the time change on Brazilians’ health and well-being.
“It is a desire of the Brazilian population,” Bolsonaro said, alluding to polls indicating that 55 percent of Brazilians disapprove of the time change.
“I didn’t like it much either,” he said during a signing ceremony at the presidential palace.
Brazil’s Energy Ministry says it found that the initial advantage of advancing the clocks to add hours of natural light in the evenings had evaporated due to changes in consumer habits and, above all, to the modernization of electrical equipment.
“The period of greatest consumption now takes place in the afternoon,” so DST “has no influence,” Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque said at the ceremony.
In Brazil, the shift to DST would usually come in October or November, on the eve of the start of the austral summer in December, and the nation would return to standard time in February or March.
The DST period coincided with Brazil’s high tourist season and adding an extra hour of sunlight was viewed as a boon to tourism, especially in Rio de Janeiro and other coastal cities known for their beaches.
In 2001, the Brazilian government extended the DST period to four months amid a severe shortage of energy. The Mining and Energy Ministry said then that the government hoped to cut electricity demand by 3 percent during the summer.
Daylight savings time was adopted by Brazil for the first time in 1931 and started being implemented annually in the mid-1980s.