ONE of the quotes that stood out for me in the events that I went to during COP26 came from Professor Mark Maslin, author of How To Save Our Planet. Put simply, what he said was “the eco warriors of tomorrow will be accountants”. That’s not a romantic message. It might not be that encouraging, unless you already are an accountant – in which case, congratulations! Go on and do your bit for the public good, by monitoring the realities in the carbon markets of the future and helping make sure they do get us to net zero.

It also brings home how making our climate-crisis-tackling changes isn’t all about romantic public statements. It can be about the maths and the bookkeeping. It can be about dull, old issues like insulation.

Maslin, speaking at a Climate Reality Project event at Glasgow Kelvin College, described how a lot of the future work will be about “the boring bureaucracy”. He observed: “It is asking questions like, ‘How do you measure emissions reduction? How do you hold people to account? How do you actually count carbon? And who gains the bonuses for reforesting?’”

We live in such a complex world – 197 countries, 7.9 billion people. Therefore, he noted: “We need people who are good at keeping track of everything. We need accountants. We need environmental accountants to come in and say, ‘Right big company, let’s have a look at your carbon footprint and see if you are telling the truth’. We also need to hold countries to account.”

Solving the climate crisis, in other words, is no longer about the scientists, or even really the more visible activists. They have already dramatically highlighted the issue and now all of us, with all of our skills, need to go about producing the necessary change.

“It’s now about real people doing real things,” said Maslin. It’s about getting lawyers, accountants, waste managers, local council officers. It’s about all of those interesting engagements. It’s also about joined-up thinking.”

A big issue, much celebrated by some, was the fact that during this COP26, Article 6, the final outstanding part of the Paris Agreement rulebook, was completed. It outlined ways in which an international carbon market might work – a framework that allows countries to exchange credits.

There are, of course, many out there who don’t like the idea of carbon markets at all. But I’m more minded to listen to, for instance, climate law expert James Cameron, who, speaking at a media briefing hosted by Earth Day early in the conference, said he believes that it’s hard to imagine “an effective societal response to climate change without valuing carbon”.

Cameron’s point is that this isn’t about creating a new market, or new currency for people to bounce numbers around in. It is, he said, about changing behaviour. “When you think about valuing carbon, when you use it as a proxy, you lead to all sorts of other actions that we would do if we did attribute value to carbon.” We might innovate more, waste carbon less, sequester it more, create a circular economy.

It says a great deal, too, that UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres included, post-COP26, among his list of things still to be done: “Put a price on carbon.”

There are, of course, strong reasons to feel sceptical about the carbon market Article 6 might create – many of them being attached to how it might incentivise countries and corporations to offset, rather than cut.

I was thinking about the issue of how we prevent all this and move towards that Net Zero world recently as my son looked down the list of subjects he can choose for Nat 5. I had been wondering what skills he might need to be part of the necessary change, and was now looking at many of the subjects in a whole different light – accountancy and business management, for instance.

READ MORE: Coal, steam, empire and COP26 : Glasgow's emissions story

Bring on the eco-accountants. And lawyers, and actuaries and auditors. We need you to be assiduous, to push for and help create the right mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing and keeping this market in check. Saving us is not going to be about activist "die-ins"; it will be about careful audit-ins.