Which countries are leading in the fight against air pollution?

June 24th, 2021

Even though the emissions of toxic gases and air pollution remain high, the recent initiatives worldwide give some hope that the air pollution problem will disappear with time. Which countries are the global leaders in fighting it?

air pollution
Source: pixabay.com

Every day, we are bombarded with pessimistic news regarding air pollution and climate change. However, there is a light in the tunnel. Many countries are on the good path to an elimination of air pollution-related problems. Of course – when we look at the general global statistics, the emissions are still definitely too high. But the efforts of many countries are starting to bring results. They’re mainly aimed towards climate change – however, since the two problems are connected, the air quality is improving, too.

Which countries have been the most successful with fighting air pollution lately? It’s not necessarily these that are considered cleanest at the moment, with almost no pollution marked on the air quality maps. In our ranking, we’ve decided to include the pioneers and the countries that have recently started changing their approach to emissions.


Greenwashing (aka green sheen) is a name for marketing activities that are designed to convince consumers that a given company is doing more to protect the environment than is actually the case. The term refers to the English term ‘whitewashing’ meaning whitening. In this case, corporations do not whiten, but rather ‘green’. What does it mean? Entrepreneurs who keep their hands on the marketing and PR pulse are well aware that environmental protection is important to an increasing number of consumers, and the ‘fashion for being eco’ is growing in strength. To present themselves in the eyes of the recipients, as a brand responsible and involved in climate action, they take seemingly environmentally friendly actions, often calling them activism (although they have little in common with it). All this, of course, aims to convince more and more potential customers.

All the Scandinavian countries have a very reasonable approach to environmental issues. However, Denmark is a leader among these. In the country’s development strategies, a strong emphasis is put on clean technology and energy. Denmark has been investing in renewable sources for a long time already. In 2020 the alternative sources – wind and water – has supplied more than half the country’s demand for electricity. Most likely, these numbers will grow in the following years. The Danish capital, Copenhagen, can serve as a model in terms of creating an ecological environment through the promotion of green means of transport. For decades, the city has been investing in bicycle lanes and public transportation, making sure to integrate these two. As a result, Copenhagen is filled with cyclists today, and its air is one of the purest in Europe. Check the pollution levels on the air pollution map, for instance, Airly.com. You will see that among the European capitals, only Zurich has cleaner air than Copenhagen!


The term greenwashing was first used by American activist Jay Westerveld in 1986. He noticed a lack of transparency in the activities of a certain hotel. Guests of this place were persuaded to use towels many times to save water that is precious to us. In fact, it was all about savings resulting from the use of detergents.

The smallest continent is not, by any means, blameless when it comes to climate change – it’s the second-largest exporter of coal in the world. At the same time, the repercussions of the climate crisis on that side of the world are the most devastating.  Regardless of its coal industry, Australia is one of the leaders in investment in renewables – particularly when it comes to solar. Last year, Melbourne became its first city with an urban infrastructure all powered by renewable energy. The others – like Sydney – will most likely follow its path soon.


Are you wondering what is one of the major polluters doing in this ranking? Well, China may have a problem with smog, but it doesn’t change the fact that its investments in renewables are worth noting. The country is the largest producer of renewable energy in the world, with a focus on hydropower and solar. If it continues investing in this sector, the air pollution-related problems may start disappearing soon.

Are you looking for more statistics on air pollution? Check Airly.org – the air quality map with real-time data from all over the world.


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