Which country has the cleanest air?

The 20 most environmentally friendly countries in the world

Air pollution causes 4.5 million premature deaths worldwide each year. In which country is most done for the environment and better air, where is it most healthy to live and where does nature still have a real chance? A ranking provides information about this. The front runner comes from Europe.

The Hopfensee in Hopfen am See (Bavaria)

Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa

4.5 million premature deaths per year - due to excessive air pollution. This number is published by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Greenpeace Southeast Asia. In addition, air pollution has an annual cost of $ 2.9 trillion worldwide. Against this background, the following question is justified: Where in the world is so much consideration given to the environment that a healthy life for humans, animals and nature is possible there?

To answer this question, the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy (YCELP) and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University calculate and publish the Environmental Performance Index (EPI).

For this purpose, a total of 20 indicators are used that provide information about the national environmental data. These indicators provide the values ​​for these nine crucial categories:

  • Health effects,
  • Air quality,
  • Water supply and sanitation,
  • Water resources,
  • Agriculture,
  • Forests,
  • Fishing,
  • Biodiversity and habitat as well
  • Climate and energy.

The goals that are pursued with the published value are human health protection as well as environmental protection and resource management. In order to obtain comparable values ​​between the different countries, they are standardized and related to the population, gross domestic product and other values.

The data obtained are then used to calculate the performance indicator. This provides information about how close a country is to the ideal. These ideals, in turn, are defined by national and international political goals and scientific thresholds. The value 100 indicates that this ideal has been achieved. The value 0 denotes countries that achieve the worst possible result in the respective category.

These are the 20 greenest countries in the world:

countryEPI value
1Switzerland87,42
2France83,95
3Denmark81,6
4Malta80,9
5Sweden80,51
6Great Britain79,89
7Luxembourg79,12
8Austria78,79
9Ireland78,77
10Finland78,64
11Iceland78,57
12Spain78,39
13Germany78,37
14Norway77,49
15Belgium77,38
16Italy76,96
17New Zealand75,96
18Netherlands75,46
19Israel75,01
20Japan74,69

Germany is only in the lower midfield. A few years ago we were still in 6th place. Countries like France, Denmark and Spain overtook us. Will the federal government's Greendeal come in time?

New method: device for exhaust gas measurement

In order to deal with air pollution, a new exhaust gas measuring device was developed with which it should be possible to enforce stricter emissions regulations. This is because the process can detect particles that are smaller than 10 nanometers. The topic of pollutants in the air has also picked up speed due to the diesel scandal. By the year 2050, the European Union is to achieve a different status, which will enable it to both protect the environment and improve people's quality of life and health. To this end, the EU should manage to become climate neutral. A particular problem arises here: the finer the pollutant particles, the more difficult it is to measure them. Below a certain size, they are no longer recorded in the current emissions tests. However, it is precisely this fine dust that penetrates the lungs particularly easily and is therefore extremely harmful to health.

Also read:

Driving bans in German city centers: the most important questions and answers

This is how an old diesel becomes a clean car

Urban planning in Barcelona

A contribution by:

  • Klara Papp

  • Sarah Janczura

    Sarah Janczura is content manager and responsible editor for ingenieur.de. After an internship with a focus on social media, she worked as an online editor in a digital agency. She writes about technology, research and career topics.