Car makers will have to fit more environmentally friendly air conditioning systems to all new cars by 2011, the EU has said.
The motor industry had been lobbying for the new rules, which stem from the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) directive from 2006, to be held off until 2017 as car makers struggle with the global downturn, and while they concentrate on more eco-friendly drivetrains.
But the European commission has ruled that the coolant used in current systems has too high a global warming potential, one that’s up to 1300 times greater than the effect of CO2.
The MAC directive says: “Emissions of hydrofluorocarbon-134a (HFC-134a), which has a global warming potential of 1 300, from air conditioning systems in motor vehicles are of growing concern because of their impact on climate change. Cost-effective and safe alternatives to hydrofluorocarbon 134a (HFC-134a) are expected to be available in the near future.”
The pressure is now on manufacturers to come up with an alternative refrigeration system, as even aftermarket systems will have to conform to the new rules by 2011.
Some makers are investigating using CO2 itself. This has a much lower global warming potential than the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) currently used, but remains in the atmosphere for around 500 years.
US company Honeywell also claims to be developing a new type of air-con HFC that remains in the atmosphere for just 11 days, rather than the 13 years of the current air-con HFC.