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Environmental impact of mobile air conditioning systems

© Montage DUH aus S. Hainz u. R. Sturm (Pixelio.de)

© Montage DUH aus S. Hainz u. R. Sturm (Pixelio.de)

Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the traffic sector represents one of the biggest challenges in the 21th century. The number of cars is growing, especially in emerging economies. Most efforts taken to improve efficiency of cars are thwarted by heavier vehicles, more powerful engines and auxiliary vehicle equipment. In this respect, mobile air conditioning systems (MAC systems) contribute to a large extend to the vehicle’s overall fuel consumption (up to 20%).

Besides, todays vehicle air conditioning systems use the chemical refrigerant R134a (Tetrafluoroethane), a powerful greenhouse gas. It is 1.430 times as harmful as CO2. Vehicles release large amounts of R134a as a result of daily use, inadequate maintenance and accidents. According to the IPCC, some 600 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with air conditioning systems and by 2015 this figure is expected to rise to 1 000 million. The UNEP expects MAC systems being responsible for a minimum of 240 million tons of CO2-equivalents by 2020. For comparison only: In 2008, the entire road traffic in Germany emitted around 145 million tons of CO2.

The campaign is aimed at the general public in Germany and Austria, to vehicle manufacturers as well as relevant stakeholders.

Our campaign

In september 2010, Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. (DUH) and its partner Verkehrsclub Deutschland e.V. (VCD) launched the campaign „PRO KLIMA: Efficient mobile air conditioning systems with natural refrigerants“. With our campaign, we want to make the population and consumers aware of the climate change impact of MAC systems. Furthermore the problem of environmental effects should be addressed more intensively in the political and social discussion.

The environmental pollution caused by MAC systems has to be reduced. There are three main areas of action, our main goals are

  • Optimization of current systems – fuel consumption has to be reduced and density of systems needs improvement
  • Introduction of natural refrigerants – CO2 is available in large amounts, not flammable and offers good cooling qualities.
  • Transparency about the fuel consumption – there has to be a standardised measurement to determine the additional fuel consumption of mobile air conditioning systems.


  • Intensive PR and press work: press releases, press conferences, TV contributions, articles in environmental magazines and professional journals
  • Consumer information
    • Online survey for consumers: questions about knowledge and further information on the environmental issue
    • What do consumers know about MAC systems? We offer a mobile exhibition which provides information on functionality of mobile air conditioning systems and their environmental impact (meant for trade fairs, events, car dealer and public institutions)
    • Workshop with important stakeholders
  • Campaign website as the central information platform of our campaign -  includes background information, tips, current events and the project documentation
  • Special activities for new drivers and driving schools
  • Incorporation of other multipliers, for instance pro-environmental fleet operators. A broad alliance will be founded to convince other stakeholders and policymakers of the importance of the issue.
  • Expert talks with industry, politics, science and other NGOs: Spreading of innovative solutions and new concepts for a more environmentally friendly MAC systems
  • Workshops with representatives responsible departments and public administration: background information on the climate impact of MAC systems to pave the way for a adequate legislation
  • Spreading of the campaign in other European countries

PRO KLIMA is financed by LIFE+. LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU, as well as in some candidate, acceding and neighbouring countries. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 3115 projects, contributing approximately €2 billion to the protection of the environment.

Campaign flyer

Climate protection also in your car: Why are mobile air-conditioning systems an environmental issue? What is PRO KLIMA about and which are the objectives of our campaign? What can car drivers do? Answers to these questions can be found in our flyer!

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© GTÜProper use of the AC protects the environment, your health and also saves fuel...

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