Column by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie.

I had the pleasure of visiting four schools last week where I met pupils and staff and went away with some homework to take up with ministers.

I went to The Croft, The Shrubberies, Upton St Leonard’s and Stroud Valley Primary and I do love being quizzed by young people and understanding what they are really interested in. Two of the schools were learning about democracy and getting their voices heard.

It was also really good to be updated by headteachers. I continue to be very impressed by how the staff are carefully navigating the post-lockdown world after such a difficult period for young people and their families.

It is clear to me that schools closing during lockdown had a devastating impact on children’s learning. It also doubled the work of our teachers as they battled through teaching online sessions as well as in person classes for key worker children. We are blessed with committed teachers who want to see children in their charge thrive.

I have some homework to take back to Westminster from pupils and teachers. One major issue that pupils raised is tackling climate change. I mentioned the new Environment Act and how that will ensure we meet our 2050 net neutral target. It is wonderful that children are so engaged in enhancing the environment, rewilding and improving our water, soil and air quality.

The scale of this challenge was very much shown by the end of the COP26 environmental conference in Glasgow at the weekend. I think we all now know how difficult it is to get nearly 200 countries to agree to take action. Getting two or three countries to agree on something can be challenging enough. I would like to thank the COP26 president Alok Sharma for all his brilliant work

There was a deal that disappointingly did not go far enough on working towards eliminating coal use – one of the major drivers of greenhouse emissions. Countries agreed to "phase down" rather than "phase out" the fuel.

Yet, countries have been asked to republish their climate action plans by the end of next year and that will mean more ambitious emissions reduction targets by 2030.

Another breakthrough was more than 100 countries promising to stop deforestation by 2030. These states are home to around 85% of the world’s forests this is real progress as trees capture vast amounts of carbon dioxide

Important news for the future of our planet is that China and the US – the world’s two biggest carbon emitters - agreed to work together on a range of climate issues.

The ambition of the conference was to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Many experts think this cannot be achieved with the deal we have but I remain optimistic.

People’s attitudes – as shown by the young people I met at the schools - are now very much about helping the climate and the environment. Politicians who ignore this will be out of power very quickly. The climate is now up there with the economy and education as top issues for people.

Another driver for optimism is how technology and science are responding to the challenges of climate change and how advances in green fuels, transport, power, agriculture and house building are making a big difference.

There is much to do and much to improve but I believe we can get there.