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Meet PLOS Climate Academic Editor Laurence Delina

We spoke with PLOS Climate Academic Editor Laurence Delina, Assistant Professor in the Division of Environment and Sustainability at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

How did you end up in your field of research?

I followed where the opportunity was. I started my academic career at the University of Auckland in the year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Al Gore and the IPCC. At that time, climate-energy research was considered niche. Then I got lucky and landed a job at the United Nations, where I saw first-hand just how slow climate-energy policy take-up was. Following that two-year stint at the UN, I studied for my PhD at the University of New South Wales (Sydney) where I examined non-technical strategies for accelerating climate action through energy transitions. Back then, the field of study was still in its infancy, and under constant attack from those with vested interests in the status quo. I took this as a validation of the importance of my work. Since then, I continued working on the acceleration of energy transition in the context of the climate emergency, linking it to concepts of justice, democracy, and equity.

Could you tell us about what you’re currently working on?

I am leading projects on the various dimensions of energy transition and climate justice across scales. These include a local project funded by the United States Institute of Peace looking at the intersections of weather extremes and violent conflict in the Bangsamoro, in the southern Philippines, where I am originally from. I also have a project funded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council that looks at the intangible assets of Indigenous rice farmers in engineered landscapes of Ifugao and Bali that contribute to their resilience, in light of cascading crises, the climate crisis included. I am also working on a project funded by the Sumitomo Foundation looking at the scale and scope of Japanese energy investments in Southeast Asia.

What do you see as the most pressing priorities for climate research? And for climate action?

I have a bias towards climate research that focuses on climate action, especially on accelerating the energy transition. The transformations of our sociotechnical energy systems have long featured on the climate action agenda, but progress has slow in terms of policy change. There are still a lot of green fields in this research area, including, for example, research on how energy resilience in the context of cascading crises could and ought to be brought about, and how to ensure that these processes are just and fair– especially to those groups who, for a long time, have been marginalised. I’m talking about Indigenous Peoples, the energy poor, those with disabilities, the elderly, refugees, and many others.

Why did you decide to join PLOS Climate’s editorial board?

PLOS Climate provides an opportunity for publishing interdisciplinary Open Access climate research that is accessible to all. The journal arrives at a time when scholarship and discussions on climate action need to be magnified and brought front-and-center. PLOS Climate provides that platform.

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