Analysis of the spatial-temporal differences and fairness of the regional energy ecological footprint of the Silk Road Economic Belt (China Section)

Maintaining the spatial equilibrium between the ecological environment and economic growth is the basis for the sustainable development of a region. The energy ecological footprint (EEF) is utilized to characterize the pressure of energy consumption on the ecological environment. The EEF, energy biocapacity (EBC), energy ecological pressure index (EEPI), and energy ecological footprint per 10,000 USD of gross provincial product (EEF per 10,000 USD of GPP) of the 9 provinces along the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) (China Section) from 2005 to 2015 were calculated. The EEF fairness evaluation model was constructed by using the Gini coefficient, the economic contribution coefficient (ECC), and the energy ecological support coefficient (EESC). The results show that the EEF of the 9 provinces along the SREB (China Section) is increasing and has grown faster in the northwestern provinces than the southwestern provinces. However, the EBC has hardly changed, and the difference in energy ecological pressure has gradually increased. The economic contribution and energy ecological support Gini coefficients of the SREB (China Section) ranged from [0.19, 0.25] and [0.30, 0.35], respectively, which were both lower than the “0.4 warning line”, thus indicating that the EEF allocations of the provinces were relatively fair. Among these allocations, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi are provinces that make a high economic contribution and a high energy ecological support contribution. Shaanxi and Chongqing are provinces that make a high economic contribution and a low energy ecological support contribution. Qinghai is a province that makes a low economic contribution and a high energy ecological support contribution. And Xinjiang, Gansu and Ningxia are provinces that make a low economic contribution and low energy ecological support contribution. To this end, appropriate development policies should be proposed for provinces with different economic contributions and energy ecological support capacities, and regional energy cooperation platforms should be established. This strategy will promote the interconnection of energy consumption, improve the fairness of regional energy ecological pressure, and realize the integration of energy and economic development.

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