Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (10): 1227-1248.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1432-2

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Emergy-based environmental accounting toward a sustainable Mongolia

Haitao LI1(), Mark BROWN1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Center for Environmental Policy, Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl 32611, USA
  • Received:2017-02-24 Accepted:2017-04-07 Online:2017-10-25 Published:2017-09-06
  • About author:

    Author: Li Haitao, PhD, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative, No.2016VBA043(BM);China Scholarship Council and Michigan State University, No.NN-X-09-AM-55G(LH)


An emergy-based environmental accounting of Mongolia is presented based on the data from 1995 to 2012. By calculating natural and economic inputs and a series of emergy indicators, this paper discusses Mongolia’s resource use structure, economic situation, trade status and societal sustainability. The results show that the total emergy use for Mongolia changed from 2.83×1022 sej in 1995 to 4.96×1022 sej in 2012, representing a 75% increase over the 18 years of this study, yet its emergy per capita remains one of the lowest in the world (1.74×1016 sej/capita). The emergy money ratio (EMR) of Mongolia during 1995-2012 decreased from 1.99×1013 sej/USD to 7.75×1012 sej/USD, which indicates that the power of a dollar for purchasing real wealth in Mongolia was declining, while the relatively high absolute values compared to its trading partners and even the world average EMR suggests that Mongolia is continuing a trade disadvantage. Mongolia’s emergy exchange ratio is increasingly less than one to the point that in 2012 the ratio was 0.3 suggesting that the exported emergy was over 3.3 times greater than the imported emergy. The growing dependence on imports and the dramatic increase in exports suggests that Mongolia’s economy is increasingly vulnerable to downturns in the world economy.

Key words: emergy, resources, sustainability, Mongolia