JOURNAL OF NATURAL RESOURCES ›› 2013, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (3): 504-516.doi: 10.11849/zrzyxb.2013.03.015

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County Green GDP Accounting Based on EMA-MFA Method and Its Spatial Differentiation: A Case of Henan Province

ZHANG Li-jun, QIN Yao-chen, ZHANG Jin-ping, LU Chao-jun   

  1. Key Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for Middle and Lower Yellow River Regions / College of Environment and Planning, Henan University, Kaifeng, Henan 475004, China
  • Received:2012-06-08 Revised:2012-08-24 Online:2013-03-20 Published:2013-03-20


Green gross domestic product (green GDP) reveals the relationship between environmental degradation, resource depletion and the economic development. A key issue on the research is to price natural resource and environment. There are various defects in market pricing. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to show a calculative form of green GDP accounting by combining emergy analysis with material flow analysis based on complex ecosystem theory. Through a study of the ecological flows, and integrating the method of material flow analysis, natural and socioeconomic outputs are translated into solar emjoules (sej) units and calculated in terms of emergy dollar by transformity. However, from a policy point of view, it is essential to know how the conflicts between economic activities and resource and environment are spatially concentrated or disseminated. To demonstrate the mechanics of green GDP accounting and its spatial diversity, complex ecosystems in Henan Province at county level was taken as an example. We estimated emergy indices and green economic development level of 108 counties in 2009, focused on the comparisons of differences between green GDP and traditional GDP and analyzed spatial differentiation for emergy indices of complex ecosystems. On that basis, green economic development of counties in Henan Province was divided into five regional types. The results showed that: 1) Green GDP accounting based on EMA-MFA is an eco-centered assessment method to emphasis sustainability, which is designed to explain the important role played by natural resources and environment on socio-economic development from the perspective of ecological processes of the complex ecosystem. 2) The spatial distribution of emergy indices all expressed a high concentrative level with some differences among counties in Henan. The results of green GDP based on EMA-MFA accounting were quite different from the results of traditional GDP. And the change of spatial differentiation between green economic development level and traditional economic development level was obvious. 3) Green GDP in Henan Province at county level can be classified into five regional types. Each type of counties should develop green economy according to local current situation and regional advantage. 4) To objectively assess the potential and status of green economic growth, both green GDP and traditional GDP must be taken into account, because green GDP accounting based on the emergy and material flow analysis to some extent may weaken the effect of economic growth. In addition, regional transformity for various ecological flows is one of the biggest challenges in further studying. It is necessary to gradually explore the interactive mechanisms among various subsystems of complex ecosystems, the ecosystem services value effectively embedded emergy analysis and environmental governance cost accounting.

Key words: complex ecosystem, green GDP, emergy-material flow analysis, spatial differentiation

CLC Number: 

  • X24