Thursday, September 21

Neither streetlights turned off at night nor monuments without light: the hoaxes about the energy saving plan

Lampposts turned off at night, monuments without light, municipalities without Christmas lights, a decrease in tourism and insecurity… The approval of energy saving measures has brought with it the dissemination of false information on social networks about their content —with the collaboration of some political leaders—despite the fact that in reality it does not include in any case the turning off of street lighting, for example.

The PP of the Community of Madrid has associated the plan, approved to meet the gas consumption reduction requirements agreed by the European Union, to an increase in “insecurity” because “the less light, the easier it is to commit crimes”. The coordinator of Social Policies of the PP in Congress, Marta González, has said that there could be negative consequences “for women”, related to security problems and “gender violence and, specifically, sexual violence” . According to González, the Royal Decree approved by the Government would imply that “cities, shops and streets were practically completely turned off.”

The deputy mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís, from Ciudadanos, has also fueled the idea that there will be no lighting in the streets by saying that “when the light goes down, crime increases” and recalling that “the lights in cities are put on for reasons of security”.

But it is not true: the lighting of the streets at night corresponds to public lighting, not to the shop windows. Only the lights of shops and public buildings that are unoccupied after 10:00 p.m. will have to be turned off, and the lighting of shops and administration buildings is not intended to light the streets. “What we have incorporated applies to buildings, not to exterior lighting, either for reasons of road lighting or ornamental lighting that are not buildings,” explained the fourth vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, on Monday.

Monuments are not included in the decree

Neither the Sagrada Familia, nor the Alhambra, nor the Burgos Cathedral nor any other of the monuments scattered throughout Spain are obliged to turn off their lighting, since they are not considered public buildings in the sense of those that are occupied by some dependency of the Administration, as confirmed to EFE by the Ministry of Ecological Transition. In other European countries, on the contrary, monuments such as the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin or the Colosseum in Rome will be turned off for a few days.

In fact, the lighting of the monuments does not appear in the decree that develops the saving plan but doubts have been raised in this regard and the Group of World Heritage Cities, of which Santiago de Compostela is a part, has announced that it will carry out a “ consultation” to the Executive to confirm it. Regardless of whether they do not appear in the decree, the administrations may turn off monuments if they consider it so. For example, Palma City Council has explained that it will turn off the lights in the Cathedral at 10:00 p.m.

The hotel industry will not have to put the air at 27º

Although there have been complaints from hoteliers for having to comply with the same air conditioning limitation as other types of businesses, the decree incorporates flexibility according to the type of activity. There has been no rectification: the standard has always established that the temperature thresholds must be adjusted to comply with the provisions of the labor legislation on safety and health in the workplace, and that the enclosures that justify “the need to maintain environmental conditions special” or have a specific regulation will not have to comply with the restriction of 27 degrees.

The Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, has also referred this Friday to this and has specified that bars and restaurants can limit the use of air conditioning to around “25 degrees”, taking into account the recommendations of labor legislation: “You cannot ask workers who are in conditions of important physical exercise not to have the conditions that labor law guarantees with respect to maximum and minimum temperatures,” Ribera assured in statements to Onda Cero. Businesses and establishments must justify when they do not apply the temperature limit on the thermostat.

What will happen to the Christmas lights

Christmas lights are not included in this plan either, although that could change: the approved measures are actually a first package that affects buildings. The plan will be completed in September, for which the Government has asked administrations, energy operators and industrial and domestic consumers to send their proposals. According to Teresa Ribera’s explanation, “probably” the ornamental exterior lighting will be reflected in that September proposal. For now, the starting signal has been given for the race between town halls for the Christmas lights and Vigo has begun its assembly.