SO here we are. Four days to go until the climate talks officially end, a 21-page draft agreement to hand, and the little matter of many hundreds of bracketed alternative wordings and options to be resolved.

A procession of alternative small words “shall”, “should” “may”– you get the idea – small words that make a big difference to intention and meaning. Alongside them whole paragraph alternatives which appear to leave every possible door open for an escape from responsibility and commitment. On these small and large verbal niceties success will depend. Tomorrow is the next big day finding out how far talks have progressed. An updated draft is due, hopefully with a few less brackets.

Yesterday saw First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s welcome visit to Paris. She delivered a powerful call for action to help the poorest people in the most fragile places – people who are coping with a problem rich nations have created. She committed Scotland to an extra £12 million over four years to the Scottish Climate Justice Fund.

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Some people might ask does Scotland’s climate example matter? I think that the impact of a good example doesn’t depend on the size of the protagonist. Alongside our climate justice fund, Scotland has committed to good targets, delivered exemplary progress on renewables and has made an innovative stab at community engagement. These are deeds anyone can understand, celebrate and choose to replicate.

Of course there is a caveat to Scotland’s story. We have missed annual targets on our way to 2020 and the atmospheric balloon doesn’t care which year the carbon dioxide is added – it just responds to the cumulative amount put in. Every missed target is another unwanted puff into the balloon. We need to get that back on track. We also need to make the right big infrastructure decisions now, to lock our emissions trajectory on a low path beyond 2020 and on to 2050 with its 80 per cent reduction target.

Back in the big tent of the negotiations (and with 40,000 people, it is very big) there is a curiously mixed mood. There is hope – because there are thousands of people of goodwill here. All nations are listening more carefully to the pressing messages from science and from our fellow, most vulnerable, citizens of the world: that message is that we need to commit to measures for a maximum 1.5C global temperature rise.

The draft agreement being discussed here in Paris reflects an awareness of the need for rigorous review and monitoring mechanisms. They are essential if we are to have any chance of delivering on an honest, just and effective agreement. On that front, I heard a first mention of an International Tribunal of Climate Justice. I found that very interesting.

But alongside hope, there is fear: of further delay; of the sacrifice of scientific honesty to political expediency; of the grim future that awaits all of us, but especially our children and generations to come, if we do not take the necessary strong action now.

The endgame of these negotiations is to come.

Underneath the big debate, behind the innumerable brackets, run many currents: the pain of those already affected by climate change; the tension between the aspirations of the developing and developed world; the impossibility of unlimited consumption and growth on a finite planet; the possibility of a sustainable, healthy prosperous alternative.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Those words surely stand at this conference for freedom from poverty and the impacts of climate change, fairness in tackling the issue across nations and generations, and solidarity for all people in the process.

On that basis I hope for an outcome that reflects the best of French values.

Will it happen? Will nations set aside perceived individual, short-term interests, and embrace collective, short, medium and long term benefit? The mood is changing, momentum is growing, action is happening, but the critical question remains: Will enough happen, and will it happen fast enough?

The next few days will no doubt see drama and brinkmanship. Whatever the outcome, over the years to come we will all need to watch for, and demand, delivery of what is promised. It is the deeds, not the words, that will ultimately count.

There are interesting days ahead, but I think the months and years after are what will truly make them meaningful.

Tom Ballantine is the chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. Follow all the latest from Paris on Twitter: @sccscot