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Information campaign"Pro-Klima: Efficient car climatisation through natural cooling substances"

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
Pro-Klima Autoklimaanlage LIFE09 INF/DE/000012
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Vehicle air conditioning systems (sometimes called mobile air conditioners) use the chemical refrigerant R134a (tetra-fluorine-ethane), a powerful greenhouse gas. Vehicles release large amounts of R134a as a result to inadequate maintenance and accidents. Mobile air conditioners also consume more energy than other auxiliary vehicle equipment. Some 600 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with air conditioning systems and by 2015 this figure is expected to rise to 1 000 million, emitting a minimum of 270 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent refrigerants into the atmosphere. CO2 is a natural refrigerant, and in 2007, the Association of the German Automotive Industry (VDA) gave its support to the future use of carbon dioxide in mobile air conditioners. Although the German automobile manufacturers promised to prospectively use environmentally friendly CO2 technology at the time of the project application, no concrete orders for CO2 MAC systems had been placed by then. In addition, it was unclear for example, which refrigerant the French and Italian car manufacturers would favour in order to comply with the EU targets in 2011 (Directive 2006/40/EC) .


The project campaigned to reduce environmental pollution caused by vehicle air conditioning systems. There were two main areas of action. Firstly, the project focused on raising awareness about enhancing existing vehicle air conditioning systems, so that energy consumption and resulting emissions would be significantly reduced. (Improved components and materials guarantee against leaks and can make systems more efficient.) At the same time, it also campaigned for the introduction of natural refrigerants to be brought forward.

Specific aims included:

  • Providing basic information on the environmental issue – informing and educating consumers about the climate change impact of vehicles’ air conditioning systems and the implementation of the EU Directive on mobile air-conditioning systems (Directive 2006/40/EC);
  • Raising awareness and educating motorists about the correct and efficient handling/use of these air conditioning systems and about their climate impact;
  • Promoting the positive aspects of the use of natural refrigerants to consumers;
  • Motivating fleet operators and car rental companies to select environmentally-friendly air conditioning systems for their vehicles, and to inform their customers about the environmental impacts;
  • Using consumer awareness and demand for natural refrigerants to step up the pressure for action among automobile manufacturers; and
  • Disclosing high levels of fuel consumption through air-conditioning systems in cars and promoting more efficient systems as well as the integration of the vehicles additional emissions due to air-conditioning in the EU CO2 Regulation for new passenger cars (Regulation (EC) No 443/2009).


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Union
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The project reached all its objectives without major problems and the general awareness about air condition (AC) systems in cars has been increased. The project therefore contributed to public and scientific discussion about cooling agents for AC systems in cars.

The project team successfully attracted media attention when a new EC Directive (2006/40/EC MAC directive) came into force at the beginning of 2013. This prohibits the use of mobile AC systems containing fluorinated greenhouse gases with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of more than 150 in passenger cars and small commercial vehicles. It required the replacement of existing cooling agents by a new one. Apart from the natural refrigerant CO2, the chemical R1234yf – (tetra-fluoro-propen) had been presented as an alternative with a lower GWP.

However, the car manufacturer Daimler AG decided not to use R1234yf as a replacement due to safety reasons. The Commission (DG Enterprise) therefore initiated infringement proceedings against Daimler AG. However, other car manufacturers (VW, BMW) also chose to use CO2 as a cooling agent from 2016 onwards for new models. In addition, market leader Toyota decided to switch back to the “old” refrigerant R134a until the safety issues of R1234yf are clarified.

Such a controversial issue sparked a useful amount of media interest and allowed the project to contribute to the discussion by bringing stakeholders together at workshops and during expert debates. This timely incident provided the PRO KLIMA team with a useful opportunity to disseminate a large number of press releases and supplied journalists with information packs. In background discussions, journalists were informed about all aspects of the discussion. This enabled the PRO KLIMA campaign to place the complex issue of mobile air-conditioning systems regularly in TV and radio programmes, as well as in the print media.

During the project, car manufacturers and operators of vehicle fleets expressed the need for further clarification of technical issues. By the end of the project several large vehicle manufacturers decided to use CO2 from 2016 onwards.

Other beneficial project outcomes illustrated the need to consider not only environmental aspects in AC systems but also safety. The beneficiaries and other environmental organisations thus strongly advised against use R1234yf due to safety risks of combustion at low temperatures and critical degradation products like hydrogen fluoride.

The Commission will provide technical specifications on the enforcement of the MAC Directive, which will be assessed not only by NGOs but also by the car industry. Thanks to the project, DUH is now in a stronger position to advocate for environmentally friendly cooling agents and they will play a key role in the discussion process on NGOs side.

Only the number of questionnaires filled in at an online survey was behind the expectations and only half of the proposed driving schools joined the campaign. But those interested in the campaign were very active.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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