Student Shana Gallagher is heading to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference on behalf of young people everywhere

Shana Gallagher is a marine conservation biologist and enthusiast. A student at Tufts University in the US, Shana will attend the Paris 2015 Climate Conference as a solar youth ambassador.

Shana is an incredibly strong and brave young woman, overcoming a traumatic brain injury just three months ago, as well as coming to terms with living with various autoimmune diseases. Despite these struggles, she is determined to do her part for the planet:

I am struggling socially, physically, and academically, but am trying to stay as optimistic as possible and find hope in the knowledge that regardless of what my mental capabilities may be from now on, I can still make a difference in my community, and the world.
- Shana Gallagher

1 Million Women had the pleasure of chatting to Shana about her mission to fight climate change:

What does "climate justice" mean to you?

Climate change is the greatest threat our society faces, but only by referring to the crisis as a pursuit of "climate justice" is a sufficient sense of urgency really communicated. This catastrophe is happening NOW and already destroying human lives and the planet.

Especially in my community, on a small, privileged and somewhat insular liberal arts university campus here in Boston, it can seem like the climate crisis is a far-off, nebulous problem. In reality, as 1 Million Women knows, human actions and our changing world are already seriously affecting millions of people around the world who are fighting for climate justice, and their lives.

What inspires you to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle?

To me, taking urgent action on climate change has always been common sense; how could we not be doing everything in our power to protect the one planet we have? As we know all too well though, many people don't see it that way, and so it can be easy to be mired in the doom and gloom associated with climate change.

What keeps you motivated?

I stay inspired, and motivated to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle, by the message of hope and opportunism that I see as going hand in hand with the pursuit of climate justice. This challenge is the one issue that confronts each and every person on this planet, regardless of our ethnic, religious, physical, or ideological backgrounds, and presents a chance to come together as a global community and make our world better for everyone on it.

What changes would you like to see others make in their lives?

Especially in developed nations like the US and Australia, individuals need to realise that we may need to make dramatic changes in our lifestyles in order to avert the worst effects of climate change.

The rich nations of the world for the most part have had an approach of "pollute first, clean up later", which has led to the detriment of developing nations and our planet. It's time for us to do our part in order for the entire global community to confront this crisis head on. The technology for a clean energy economy is out there, even if the political will isn't - and this is another extremely important role of individuals in rich countries.

We must amplify the voices of those already suffering because of climate change, and demand that our leaders and our peers take urgent action to ensure that our society can continue to survive for many more years to come.

Above: Shana asking Al Gore a question about carbon pricing at the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps training in Miami

What are your hopes for the Paris 2015 Climate Conference at the end of the year?

The Paris 2015 climate negotiations represent the last chance for our global community to come together and strike a binding deal on climate change. Unfortunately, though it's looking likely that a deal will be struck, this will most likely be symbolic, and the real bold action to confront this crisis will have to happen on the national and sub-national level.

However, a deal at this conference can give hope to the world that there is a possibility of cooperation and global leadership to take action, and that our leaders are committed to pursuing climate justice and a livable world.

What is your message to the 1 Million Women community?

My message to the 1 Million Women community would be: to change everything, we need everyone!

It's going to take each and every one of us taking urgent and bold action to confront the climate crisis, and no one person is too small to make a difference. We will never know what the straw that breaks the camels back will be in terms of turning the tide on national and global politics in the direction of climate change solutions, but it will happen as long as we raise the heat and maintain pressure on our leaders to act.

Whether it's writing to your local politicians, educating your children, putting solar panels on your house, or just talking about the climate crisis with your peers, everything we do throughout the day has the potential to have an impact. Find inspiration in yourselves and those around you to keep fighting for the one planet we have!

Find out more about Shana's journey to Paris

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1 Million Women is more than our name, it's our goal! We're building a movement of strong, inspirational women acting on climate change by leading low-carbon lives. To make sure that our message has an impact, we need more women adding their voice. We need to be louder. Joining us online means your voice and actions can be counted. We need you.

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