Urban ecological footprint analysis: a comparative study between Shenyang in China and Kawasaki in Japan
With the rapid urbanization, many cities are facing various environmental issues, resulting in local ecological degradation. It is critical to conduct a scientific assessment so that appropriate solutions can be found by considering the local realities. Many evaluation methods, such as emergy analysis, material flow analysis, data envelopment analysis and ecological footprint analysis, have been proposed. Among them, ecological footprint analysis has been applied as a useful policy and planning tool for evaluating urban sustainability. The aim of this paper is to evaluate two industrial cities by using ecological footprint method in Shenyang, China and Kawasaki, Japan. The two cities have been “friendship cities” for over 30 years and have similar industrial structures. In order to present a holistic evolution picture on their ecological footprints, we collected all the relevant data for the period of 1997–2009. The results show that Shenyang's ecological footprints experienced a significant increase, while such figures in Kawasaki were quite stable, but per capita figures in Shenyang were much less than those in Kawasaki, indicating that a gap between the two cities still exist. In order to further improve its sustainable development, Shenyang should closely collaborate with Kawasaki, learning Kawasaki's eco-town experiences and other environmental management experiences. In addition, Shenyang should also learn from other leading cities and try to optimize its industrial and energy structure and improve their citizens' environmental awareness so that it can move toward a more sustainable development direction.