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The changing role of ports in regional and global networks in the wake of energy transition: The case of the Montreal port-region

Authors: Alex Champagne-Gelinas*, Institut national de la recherche scientifique
Topics: Transportation Geography, Economic Geography, Energy
Keywords: Energy transition, Port regions, resilience
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With the ever-decreasing cost of transporting goods, the global and regional roles of ports are changing. They still act as gateways for goods going to and from their hinterlands, but they have lost a lot of their importance. At the regional level, they have lost part of their power of attraction for firms, many of which prefer to locate or relocate further away from the crowded and expensive waterfronts. At the international level, ports have largely become pawns in a game played by large multinational firms and conglomerates. Thus, today, what matters for ports is chiefly their relative positions in international and regional networks rather than their spatial locations. To better understand this changing relationship, this paper will present the concept of port-region which offers a unique way to look at economic regions through the lens of their transport connections and economic links to global networks. I will use the case of the Montreal port-region and look at the changes of both its geography (localization of firms within it, regional expansion) and its links to global networks. In the second part of this paper, I will look at how this evolution of the Montreal port-region has helped (and hindered) its preparation for the changes brought by the coming energy transition. Here again, it is not the direct effects of energy transition that I will study, but rather the way it might change global transport systems and the effects this will have on the Montreal port-region.

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