Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 60, Issue 6, pp 1083–1097 | Cite as

Analysis of emergy-based metabolic efficiency and environmental pressure on the local coupling and telecoupling between urbanization and the eco-environment in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration

  • ChuangLin Fang
  • YuFei Ren
Research Paper


We use emergy-based urban metabolism analysis in this study to investigate the local coupling and telecoupling between urbanization and the eco-environment in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration. Our analysis encompasses the last 35 years spanning the period between 1980 and 2014. In addition, we analyze urban metabolic efficiency and environmental pressure in these couplings. There are three main conclusions of this study. First, we show that the total metabolic emergy value of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration has increased over the last 35 years, and that external elements have replaced internal ones as the leading contributors to urban metabolism in this region. The proportion of metabolic emergy derived from external elements increased from 30.87% in 1980 to 67.43% in 2014. The emergy extroversion ratio has continued to increase over our study period, while the development of this urban agglomeration had become progressively and more heavily reliant on external elements. Second, over the study period, the metabolic emergy intensity of elements of local coupling and telecoupling in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration has declined at an accelerating rate, from 1.15×1021 Sej/100 million RMB in 1980 to 9.69×1019 Sej/100 million RMB in 2014. This reflects a continuous increase in the economic efficiency of this area. Correspondingly, emergy use per capita increased from 7.8×1015 Sej/person in 1980 to 5.83×1016 Sej/person in 2014, suggesting a gradual rise in the level of social welfare in this urban agglomeration. However, we also observed a consistently elevated environmental loading ratio (ELR) in our analysis in terms of metabolism of local coupling and telecoupling elements. This result indicates that environmental pressure has also increased constantly within the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration. Third, our analysis shows that the ELR of metabolic emergy from internal elements increased from 8.30 in 1980 to 43.46 in 2014, while the ratio from external elements increased from 4.15 to 92.03. Thus, we quantitatively investigated the dependency of development within this urban agglomeration on external elements as well as the resultant environmental load. The conclusions of this study provide the basis for quantitative policy-making in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, optimizing economic structures, improving economic efficiency, controlling environmental pollution, and promoting the coordinated development of this region.


Urbanization Eco-environment Local coupling and telecoupling Total metabolic emergy value Metabolic emergy intensity Environmental pressure Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration 


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This work was supported by the Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China: “Coupled mechanism and interactive coercing effects between urbanization and eco-environment in mega-urban agglomerations” (Grant Nos. 41590840 & 41590842).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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