Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (5): 843-858.doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0967-5

• Ecology and Environment • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Emergy-based sustainability assessment of Inner Mongolia

ZHU Luping1, LI Haitao1,2,3, CHEN Jiquan2, JOHN Ranjeet2, LIANG Tao1, YAN Maochao1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Department of Environmental Sciences, The University of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606, USA;
    3. International Ecological Research Center, Zhejiang University of Agriculture and Forestry, Hangzhou 311300, China
  • Received:2011-11-21 Revised:2012-05-08 Online:2012-10-15 Published:2012-10-15


An integrated environmental accounting of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) is presented in this paper based on emergy analysis with data from 1987 to 2007. Through calculating environmental and economic inputs and a series of emergy indicators, this paper discusses IMAR’s resource use structure, economic situation, and trade status. The results show that more than 85% of the emergy used in IMAR was derived from home sources, indicating a strong capacity for self-sufficiency. Concentrated-used local non-renewable emergy, which provides IMAR economy with most of the driving forces, took the largest share in total emergy use after 2004 and reached 58% in 2007. The Western China Development Plan of 2000 ushered in a rapid growth of coal and electricity production and exportation to other regions of China from IMAR. The export/import emergy ratio of IMAR reached 3.46 in 2007, with the coal exported (3.44×1023 sej in 2007) without being used by IMAR itself, accounting for almost 100% of the difference between the imports and exports. The results also show that from 1987 to 1998, EmSI values remained higher than 10, suggesting underdevelopment in IMAR; after 1998, EmSI values decreased sharply from 19.07 in 1998 to 1.88 in 2007, indicating that IMAR is characterized by medium-run sustainability and is relying more on non-renewable resources and imports.

Key words: emergy, resources, sustainability, Inner Mongolia