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Greenhouse Gas Emission Scenario Modeling for Cities Using the PURGE Model

A Case Study of the Greater Toronto Area


Address correspondence to: Eugene Mohareb, University of Toronto, Department of Civil Engineering, 35 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A4, Canada. E-mail:


Cities globally are in the midst of taking action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. After the vital step of emissions quantification, strategies must be developed to detail how emissions reductions targets will be achieved. The Pathways to Urban Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions (PURGE) model allows the estimation of emissions from four pertinent urban sectors: electricity generation, buildings, private transportation, and waste. Additionally, the carbon storage from urban and regional forests is modeled. An emissions scenario is examined for a case study of the greater Toronto, Ontario, Canada, area using data on current technology stocks and government projections for stock change. The scenario presented suggests that even with some aggressive targets for technological adoption (especially in the transportation sector), it will be difficult to achieve the less ambitious 2050 emissions reduction goals of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is largely attributable to the long life of the building stock and limitations of current retrofit practices. Additionally, demand reduction (through transportation mode shifting and building occupant behavior) will be an important component of future emissions cuts.