WE in Scotland are marked by COP26. I could use this column to count the ways the conference has failed: the limpness of the fossil fuel mentions; the altering, under pressure from China and India, of “phase out” of coal to “phase down”; above all, the lack of commitment to the finance that the developing world will need in order to decarbonise, adapt and cope with loss and damage.

I could also examine why it failed. Perhaps Mary Robinson put it best: “Not enough leaders were in crisis mode”. One could count Boris Johnson, fresh from foreign aid cuts, mired in a crisis of sleaze, and taking a private jet back to London for dinner, as among them. There was also the fact that this was a business-friendly COP, and one so fossil-fuel friendly that there were over 500 delegates linked to the industry.

But I’m not going to dwell on such accounting. Instead, I’d like to focus on another legacy of COP26. For what strikes me is that it has left Glasgow and Scotland changed. We found a new, or renewed, way of looking at ourselves in the world and of working together to change it. And, as Greta Thunberg said: “The real work continues outside these halls.” Or at least some of it does.

COP26 has left in its wake a powerful movement for just transition and climate justice. In the crucible of the marches, the assemblies and the People’s Climate summit hosted by the COP26 coalition, alliances were forged between environmentalists, unions, workers of all types and social justice campaigners. The debate happening in these events and more widely has shifted the way we talk about all climate issues and also highlighted moral obligations we might have to those parts of the world facing loss and damage.

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

It made people think about justice at all levels, both local and global. STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer observed as the conference ended: “Outside the fences of COP, we’ve seen striking cleansing workers join hands with Fridays for Future youth climate strikers. We’ve seen trade unionists, community groups, and environmental NGOs take over George Square to demand decent public transport for all our citizens, not just COP26 delegates.”

The discussion was also not just happening amongst Glaswegians. A movement was gathering around hybrid events, some of which were taking place digitally with people in other parts of the world, some here. Voices of indigenous people and those countries most impacted by climate change were heard in the city – people like Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, with her repeated powerful message, “We all face the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat.”

And it’s not just activists who have been changed. It’s all those exposed to the climate debate. It’s a friend who wrote to his councillor to push for community domestic heating changes. It’s students like James McGunnigle at Glasgow Kelvin College who attended the talks put on there by The Climate Reality Project, who said: “Talking about the environment is very important. Because it’s like the skin of life, if you poke it then there’s a risk.” It’s the college’s principal, Derek Smeall, keen to provide young people with green skills.

Nicola Sturgeon too appears marked by it – and not just through her enhanced selfie collection. When Scotland became the first country in the world to pledge funding to loss and damage, and she spoke of “reparation”, that was a game-changer. Here was an idea I had mostly previously heard from groups like the Edinburgh NGO Earth in Common now not just moved mainstream,b.

Did the conference fail? Not entirely. But its successes felt more like baby steps, when what were needed were giant steps. Such is what we face that everything that does not reach for the highest ambitions is in some way failure.

But let us remember that global shifts are not only about leaders. Workers can change things, as can voters, consumers and local activists. The movement that gathered force here helps set the debate for the next COP, in Egypt, but also the conditions for people to act here, at home. As global leaders fail, we must all do the job of keeping “1.5 alive”.