A DAY spent in Glasgow, diving between two worlds, reveals so much about why so many are angry and frustrated; but also why we must not give up hope. Last Friday, I joined the youth march – a gathering of many thousands that included the climate youth movement, workers and indigenous activists – before heading over to the conference itself. It felt like a dive between one world and another, between people power and power-broker and finance talk.

To walk the length of the Fridays For Future march was to feel the outrage of youth, workers and indigenous peoples. At its head a young indigenous activist, wearing a feather headdress, seemed to ride the crowd. Another carried the Climate Clock, which registers the time left in which to limit warming to 1.5C: 7 years, 259 days. “Power to the people,” the activists sang, and that power was raw and palpable, right across the march, from Extinction Rebellion representatives through union marchers right to the Fridays for Future grouping in the middle of which was Greta Thunberg. A small mouse-blonde head half-hidden, protected by a line of young climate activists.

Passing the GMB block representing the bin strikers, I spoke to Chris Mitchell the union’s convener. “The young people aren’t daft,” he said. “They see how at the end of the day these people just turn up at these banquets to showboat, then jump on a plane or a boat.”

Further forward, an indigenous activist from West Papua told me: “A UN panel has said that indigenous peoples safeguard 80 per cent of the world’s remaining biodiversity. So they are a fundamental player. Yet they are marginalised in the COP, and we see the lobbyists of big polluters sitting there, having their say.”

Later, Thunberg would make her own stark speech on Glasgow Green, declaring that COP26 was “a failure” and a “PR event”.

But by then I was already gone, off to enter that PR event. Even wandering around the conference site told me a great deal about its character. It feels like the hall of a busy international airport, flowing with people of different nationalities. Corporate partnership branding is everywhere, on telephone booths covered in Iberdrola/Scottish Power logos. An electric racing car, created by the Envision Virgin Formula E team, is on display. It’s there to show off how Formula E has helped to accelerate progression in electric road cars. But still, in a world where climate breakdown is already affecting hundreds of millions, it seems a stunningly tactless statement.

The adjacent Pavilion hall feels like high-end trade fair, whose stands include the gleaming Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pavilion. Here its worth mentioning that Saudi Arabia came close to blocking the Paris Agreement and this year has already tried to block the creation of a "cover decision", an overall message to come out at the end of COp26, and also progress on adaptation to help those impacted by climate change

Most of these pavilions are hosts to a daily series of panel events and what strikes me is that one of the chief issues at the heart of many of the conversations is money. It’s finance. I hear a delegate talk about “guiding the invisible hand” towards green financing.

But then, funding matters and it should be no surprise, given the nature of our capitalist system, that the language is all around investment, assets and growth. While the protest world outside is demanding we uproot the system, inside the talk is mostly of working that system towards net zero targets.

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

The Ferret has revealed that there are 1,000 fossil fuel and big business reps at COP26. That’s a shocking figure, but it’s worth remembering that there are a further 39,000 delegates at the conference. What I felt, leaving it, was a real sense of debt towards the many of them who have been working hard towards tackling the climate crisis over decades. On the way back to Edinburgh, I happened to sit next to a group of delegates pushing for indigenous people’s rights. “I feel what Greta said about COP26 being a failure was premature,” one of them said. “We don’t know yet. There is still a week to go.”

So, has it failed? For many of the delegates I met, the conference is not over just because the leaders have left – there is still much to work for. That doesn’t mean COP26 isn’t the PR exercise Thunberg describes. What I’ve seen suggests it is. But there are nevertheless passionate delegates there, fighting for the people and a genuinely greener world.