Drive green: THIS European capital is most in need of an EV transition

A further delay to implement the new Euro 7/VII vehicle emission limits in the EU, and the irreversible impacts of global warming according to the latest UN report, have rekindled the debate on how detrimental petrol cars are to our planet.

Intrigued to uncover the European capitals doing the least to reduce emissions, the experts at utilised previous years’ air quality records from to determine the European city with the worst plunge in air quality, consequently in most need of a shift to electric cars.

We hope this data is of use to you. If you wish to use it, we kindly ask for a link to the full study:

The European capitals where air pollution increased (EV transition deemed most vital!)

Rank Capital Country Percentage Change of Air Pollutants (2019-2021)
1 Reykjavík Iceland 13.99%
2 Budapest Hungary 12.24%
3 Tallinn Estonia 11.06%
4 Madrid Spain 2.90%
5 Warsaw Poland 2.69%
6 Bratislava Slovakia 2.57%
7 Oslo Norway 0.06%

For the complete data of the 24 cities analysed, please click here. can reveal that Reykjavík is suffering the worst drop in air quality, as the Icelandic capital tops the list with a 13.99% increase in air pollutants from 2019 to 2021. Despite that, the famous ‘land of fire and ice’ is found to have the least amount of PM2.5 (an air pollutant damaging to our lungs when levels in the air are high) out of all cities analysed – averaging only 14.65 units over three years.

Merely 1.75% apart from Reykjavík is the spa capital of the world, Budapest, Hungary. Ranking second highest in its increase in air pollutants at 12.24%, a switch to EVs in the city should be greatly encouraged as air pollution levels steadily rose even during 2020, the year of lockdowns. The Estonian capital, Tallinn, is the third city to need an EV transition the most with air pollutants increasing 1.18% less than Budapest at 11.06%.

In the fourth spot, the vibrant Spanish capital, Madrid, sees a much lesser drop in air quality with a slim 2.90% increase in air pollutants from 2019 to 2021. Where an EV rollout is given another push in the city, air pollution levels could potentially fall with the decarbonisation of road transport.

Uswitch energy expert, Ben Galizzi, comments on how to reduce air pollution levels:

“Improving your energy efficiency isn’t as hard as you might think. You can help tackle air pollution by making a few simple changes to your home and lifestyle.

Using energy-efficient bulbs and appliances in your home may sound like a small thing, but they’re an easy way to reduce your energy emissions, not to mention your bills!

Switching to an electric car provides an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fuel-powered vehicles. With lots of high-quality, cost-effective home charging options now available, going electric is easier than ever.”

This press release is part of a large study on The European capitals where air pollution increased.


  1. sought to determine the European capitals with the biggest decrease in air quality.
  2. Firstly, the study began by commencing a download of an initial sample of 792,394 US Air Quality* records from 2019 to 2021 for 75 countries and the respective capitals. This data was filtered to European countries, which left 24 cities in the dataset. Only records from 2019 to 2021 were utilised as older data did not contain full years of data. (Source:
  3. The data collected was then filtered to obtain results for only the European countries missing at most one of the most common pollutants US Air Quality Index (AQI) indices. Data was aggregated by year to obtain a yearly average pollutant registration for the cities analysed. (Source: and
  4. For each city, the overall US AQI was calculated by taking the maximum of all individual US AQI* and the results were used to compare the percentage change of the years 2020 and 2021 to the respective previous years. Some pollutant data was missing due to a lack of measurements, however as the maximum US AQI is taken as the overall value, this did not significantly affect calculations. *Calculations to obtain the US AQI were conducted as stated in
  5. To conclude, the sum of the percentage change was calculated and used to rank the cities accordingly.
  6. All data was collected on 15/01/2022 and is correct as of then.

*Air Quality Index developed by the US government

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