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Research Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society | IREES Research

Multi-scale material consumption accounts and resource sustainable development in China from a perspective of metabolism | Yanxian Li

Yanxian Li
Yanxian Li

Field l Discipline

  • Material, Multidisciplinary
  • Resource sustainability
  • Environmental Science


  • Input-output model
  • Material flow analysis
  • Life cycle assessment and Sustainability assessment


Global consumption of natural resources including biomass, fossil fuels and minerals (excluding water and land) has reached more than 90 Gt in 2017 predicted by UNEP to double by 2050 given current trends. With the continuous growth of the global population and the global economy, the global community will face severe resource shortages, and achieving resource sustainability is one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

China’s increasing economic growth and urbanization rate will further increase pressure on both China’s and global resources and the environment. However, due to a lack of a widely used material flow accounting framework and associated standards in China, there have been few comparative analyses of long-term material consumption dynamics of economic activities of urban systems, and the ones that exist mainly concentrate on a specific scale rather (such as national/provincial scales or individual cities) than cross scales. Therefore, material consumption and interconnections of sectors within urban systems or cross scale needs to be understanded.

The research will be conducted over following phases:

In the phase one, both the total and sectoral direct/embodied material consumption for different types of materials of Chinese cities will be quantified by combining MFA, LCA and MRIO.

The aim of phase two is to trace the sources, processes and destinations of material flows which affect the material metabolism of Chinese cities. After quantifying the direct and embodied material consumption in phase one, the material flows among sectors within urban system and between the sectors with the external environment will be quantifies, modelled and compared from a perspective of metabolism.

In the phase three decomposition models will be constructed to quantify contributions of socioeconomic influential factors to long term consumption variations, in order to identify key driving forces of material consumption in China.

In the final part the scenarios of resource optimization will be stimulated to evaluate the impact of different intervention methods on the consumption of various resources.

Supervision by

  • Promotor: Prof. dr. K.S. (Klaus) Hubacek | Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society - IREES | ESRIG, University of Groningen.
  • Co-promotor: Dr. F. (Franco) Ruzzenenti | Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society - IREES | ESRIG, University of Groningen.
  • Daily supervisor: Dr. Y. (Yuli) Shan | Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society - IREES | ESRIG, University of Groningen.

More information and contact details can be found on the personal profile of Yanxian Li

Last modified:11 April 2023 10.45 a.m.