Original post by Tyler here. Not news. Coulda used some graphs. For Western Europe, this is about air pollution regulations, for Eastern Europe, the legacy Communism and energy inefficiency. Note the excessive air pollution of Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Must be about local coal deposits. Note also the curious lack of air pollution in Romania, Hungary, and the Baltics. Though Russia has auto inspections far more severe than those of much of the U.S., its cities also smell far more polluted.
BTW, the real mystery outlier countries here are Greece and especially Italy. Italy must have some really loose air pollution regulations, especially in the North. This is strange, as the North of Italy is much less corrupt than the South. Germany’s also an industrial country, and has much higher CO2 emissions per capita than Italy, but it doesn’t have strong air pollution. Meanwhile, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro have lower CO2 emissions per capita than Spain, but are also much more polluted. Clearly, this is about the type of fuel burned. There is little doubt Italy and Greece can clean up their air at no net cost to their economies. Plausibly even the former socialist countries.