Climate change has always been a big topic. However, it is becoming increasingly debated in the news, with campaigns and awareness around the crisis on the rise, as well as documentaries from the likes of Sir David Attenborough and Prince William himself to encourage people to do more to save our planet before time runs out.

Through lockdown, we saw the positive effects people staying at home and the lessened use of transport had on sea and air pollution around the world – but which countries have the best climates, and where are the best cities to visit, or move to, for a big gulp of fresh air?

The team at CIA Landlord have researched which countries and cities in Europe have the best and worst climate stability. We have ranked the countries based on a number of different factors – including air pollution score and the percentage of forest area to find out which European cities and countries have the most stable climates – especially useful for those looking for a change of scenery.

Would you still want to invest in a property if you knew that climate change was affecting the area in the future significantly?

Europe’s Best And Worst Climate Hotspots

Data reveals Sweden as the best country in Europe for climate stability.

Our data found that the best country in Europe for a healthy climate is Scandinavian nation, Sweden. The country boasts the best air quality out of the countries analysed scoring a low 2.8, along with having a large percentage of the country taken up by forest.

Furthermore, Sweden had the best score of all the countries analysed for their level of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter which reduces visibility when high), a relatively low number of active volcanoes and no recent significant flooding. The only factor the country dropped points on was their temperature index score where they scored mid-range compared to other countries in Europe. Therefore, for those who are concerned about environmental changes when looking to invest in a property in Europe, Sweden may be a little more expensive but, with the current climate, a great place to invest.

The UK ranked in 5th place for best European climate, scoring well for temperature, concentrations of PM2.5 and the lesser chance of major flooding. However, the UK scores a 4.3 for air pollution making it a mid-range country in Europe for air quality. This alongside the UK’s lack of forest (13%) compared to other European countries meant that the UK just made it to the top five.

Turkey, Italy and Czech Republic rank as some of the worst countries in Europe for their climate. Turkey scored a high 6.1 for air pollution, alongside high concentrations of PM2.5 and a low percentage of land taken up by forest. This combined with their number of active volcanoes and previous earthquakes left Turkey in the bottom spot of the rankings. As for Italy and the Czech Republic, both countries dropped points for their levels of air pollution (Italy – 4.6 and Czech Republic – 5.3) as well as a smaller percentage of land taken up by forest compared to the other European countries analysed.

However, property in Italy is notably cheaper than that of Sweden and the UK – a previous study by CIA Landlords revealed that the average property in Italy is approximately £100,000 cheaper than in Sweden.

Europe’s Best And Worst Cities For Air Quality

Our research revealed that Umea (Sweden), Tampere (Finland), and Funchal (Portugal) are the best three cities in Europe for air quality. 

Sweden actually appears three times in the top 10 cities for air quality in Europe with Umea landing first spot and Uppsala and Stockholm landing 6th and 9th spot respectively.

You can see in the table below the 10 best cities for air quality in Europe:

Rank Country City Name Air Quality (μg/m3)
1 Sweden Umea 3.7
2 Finland Tampere 3.8
3 Portugal Funchal 4.2
4 Estonia Tallinn 4.4
5 Norway Bergen 4.6
6 Sweden Uppsala 4.6
7 Estonia Narva 4.8
8 Spain Salamanca 4.9
9 Sweden Stockholm 5.0
10 Estonia Tartu 5.2

But which cities in Europe suffer from some of the worst air quality? Poland and Italy are amongst the worst ‘air offenders’ in Europe with five Polish cities (Nowy Sącz, Zqierz, Piotrków Trybunalski, Zory and Krakow) in the bottom 10 and two Italian cities (Cremona and Vicenza). It was reported at the end of 2020 that Poland has one of the highest levels of air pollution in the EU with levels of PM2.5 causing smog and affecting residents’ health.

You can see in the table below the 10 worst cities for air quality in Europe:

Rank Country City Name Air Quality (μg/m3)
1 Poland Nowy Sącz 27.3
2 Italy Cremona 25.9
3 Croatia Slavonski Brod 25.7
4 Italy Vicenza 25.6
5 Poland Zwierz 25.2
6 Poland Piotrków Trybunalski 24.9
7 Poland Zory 24.9
8 Poland Krakow 24.7
9 Italy Brescia 24.0
10 Italy Pavia 22.9

Europe’s Best and Worst Cities for Rising Sea Levels

Our data also analysed sea levels and we found that Lithuania, Latvia and Finland are among the worst affected countries in Europe by sea level changes. Lithuania has seen an increase over the past 45 years with its sea levels reportedly rising 4.46mm each year from 1970-2015.

Whilst Lithuania and Latvia are being badly affected by rising sea levels, Finland is having the opposite issue with declining sea levels 4.36mm per year.

Country Sea-Level Rise Sea-Level decrease Sea temperature Rise Precipitation (More likely to rain or snow)
Lithuania 4.6 mm/ yr 0.73 c 20 mm/decade
Finland 4.26 mm/yr 0.73 c 20 mm/decade
Latvia 4.02 mm/yr 0.73 c 20 mm/decade

Luckily for other countries around Europe, their sea levels have not yet been as badly affected. Countries in the Nordic region have seen the least amount of change in their sea levels, with countries such as Iceland and Norway seeing much smaller levels of sea level rise. Greece was also in the top three countries for lowest amount of sea level changes as they have seen a small decrease in sea levels, but nothing of major significance.

Methodology and Sources

A seed list of 25 European countries was chosen to help determine the best and worst countries and cities in Europe for climate – including air quality and sea level rises.

The best-worst country ranking is based on each country’s average score out of 10 based on the following factors:

  • Air pollution

  • Forest Area

  • Annual mean concentrations of PM2.5

  • Temperature

  • Average Flood score

  • Earthquakes

  • Volcanos

  • Active Volcanoes


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