Study climate and conservation and drive the green revolution

Climate and conservation

So, your goal is to save the planet? There are plenty of different pathways to explore in climate and sustainability

Whether you see yourself designing green cities to address climate change or using drones to keep an eye on endangered wildlife and protect against biodiversity loss, there are endless career opportunities in climate and conservation. 

Working on green climate solutions like restoring forests could create as many as 39 jobs per million dollars spent – that’s a job-creation rate more than six times higher than the oil and gas industry! Australia is the place to be for environmentally minded jobseekers, with renewable energy exports alone having the potential to create up to 395,000 new jobs by 2040. In 2018, the demand for green jobs in Australia saw a 50% increase in just two years, according to a report by jobs site Indeed. 

Eye on the future

A career in climate and conservation is as wide-ranging as it sounds. Scientists and engineers from all disciplines will need to provide solutions for reducing carbon emissions and managing changing climate and ecosystems. Urban designers use their problem-solving skills to make towns and cities more sustainable, while agricultural scientists draw on their knowledge of biology and ecology to strike a balance between improving crops and conserving the environment. 

Developing planet-saving solutions that tackle huge challenges from every angle is QUT’s vision. Researchers in our Centre for a Waste-Free World  are developing smart, interdisciplinary approaches to cleaning up pollution, tracking wildlife, reshaping environmental policy and law, creating clean energy and making agriculture more sustainable. 

One project is focussed on turning agricultural waste into green chemicals, such as biofuels and pharmaceutical ingredients, as well as virus-filtering masks. Another is using drones, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor the Great Barrier Reef. 

Study paths in climate and conservation

For students looking to kickstart their path to saving the planet, QUT offers specialised degrees in Earth science and environmental science, and urban development. Each degree offers plenty of opportunities to gain real-world experience and connect with industry leaders. In addition to lab classes, biological and environmental science students take a field trip to Queensland’s K’gari to learn about ecological systems up close in collaboration with First Nations peoples, as our land’s first scientists. 

Those enrolled in urban development get stuck into design projects in QUT’s advanced architecture and urban Design Lab and put their skills into practice during a 30-day work experience program. 

There are also plenty of options for students who want to mix and match their interests, particularly those who want to better understand climate change. To meet the fast-growing industry demand for climate change and environmental sustainability know-how, QUT have introduced a new climate science minor that can be combined with any other degree, from law to business. The climate science minor gives students a snapshot of topics like climate change, alternative energy technologies, marine environments, cloud formation, and more.

Find out more about studying climate and conservation at QUT here.

Cool climate and conservation initiatives at QUT

Sustainability at QUT

QUT is moving towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Up until 2028, half of QUT’s energy will be sourced from a solar farm in Columboola. The university also has nine solar photovoltaic panels spread across its Kelvin Grove and Gardens Point campuses, reducing the need for grid electricity. Taking sustainability a step further, each campus has charging stations for electric vehicles that are free to use 24/7. 

In 2018, QUT became the first Australian university to team up with sustainability company Closed Loop and their Simply Cups initiative to reduce the number of takeaway cups in the waste stream. Since then, QUT’s recycling program has prevented over 150,000 coffee cups from ending up in landfill. 

Making wastewater drinkable

A team of QUT’s researchers have joined forces with Japanese diversified global giant Asahi Kasei to develop a water-purifying technology that uses solar energy or low-grade heat generated by industrial processes to turn bore water, industrial wastewater and seawater into pure drinking water. 

The process is being tested at a QUT pilot plant that is capable of processing up to 1000 litres of water each day. The water-purifying technology could eventually be used at mining, agricultural and industrial facilities and could even provide emergency drinking water during natural disasters. 

Start your career here

Climate & Conservation Study

Climate & Conservation Jobs

  • Environmental scientist: $54K–$92K
  • Agricultural scientist: $58K–$131K
  • Marine biologist: $44K–$109K
  • Electrical engineer: $57-$119
  • Policy adviser: $57K–$114K*

Salaries according to payscale.com

Climate and conservation role models

This article was created in partnership with QUT and originally appears in the QUT STEM Guide 2022. 

Gemma Conroy

Author: Gemma Conroy

Gemma is a freelance journalist with a passion for making science accessible to everyone. Gemma has a degree in biology from Macquarie University and loves sharing amazing discoveries with the world.

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