The British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has stressed he expects Australia to “stretch” climate commitments and set out a plan to meet them before a major summit later this year.

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, continues to shift how he talks about the climate crisis without making new commitments to address it. But Raab expressed confidence the Morrison government would “step up to the plate” on climate.

More than 100 countries have a target of reaching net zero emissions by mid-century. There is a push led by the UK and US for them to back it up with stronger commitments for 2030 before the conference in Glasgow in November.

Australia has resisted setting a net zero target or lifting its 2030 target, though Morrison has said he wants to meet the former goal “as soon as possible and preferably by 2050”.

A statement on Wednesday detailing a conversation between Morrison and Joe Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, said the pair had discussed the transition to a “new energy economy”.

In an interview with the ABC, Raab was asked about Britain’s plan to introduce an emissions trading scheme in May, and how important it was to put a price on carbon to reach net zero emissions. Australia had a carbon price but the Coalition abolished it in 2014.

Raab said a carbon price was “one way to do it”, but there were other ways and the most important thing was the world worked together to cut emissions.

“I think the real dynamic we want to establish is a virtuous cycle of stretch ambitions for nationally determined contributions [of targets and policies] and then credible plans in order to meet them,” he said. “I know Australia will step up to the plate.”

Asked about Britain and other countries having denied Morrison a speaking slot at a climate ambition leaders summit last December, Raab said the organisers had set requirements in advance – that leaders had to bring new climate commitments – to be heard. He said the UK accepted the right of the Australian government “to set its own course”.

He said Britain was “working very closely with our Australian friends”.

“We know these are difficult issues, there are difficult economic trade-offs, but we’ve got to come together and if the liberal democracies including the UK and Australia can’t help lead the way, we’re not going to shift the dial,” Raab said.

He pointed out that Britain had invited Australia, India and South Korea to attend a G7 summit in Cornwall in June, where climate will be one of the major points of focus. Diplomatic sources have told Guardian Australia the UK hopes to persuade the three countries to join the G7 in accelerating the push to net zero.

The US and the UK last week issued a joint statement urging all countries “to take the steps needed to keep a 1.5C temperature limit within reach, including through ambitious nationally determined contributions and long-term strategies to cut emissions and reach net zero”.

Official projections released in December suggested the Morrison government was not yet on track to meet its 2030 emissions target of a 26% to 28% cut compared with 2005 levels. Scientists say that target is roughly half of what Australia should be doing over that timeframe.

Morrison’s office released a summary of the discussion with Kerry stressed emissions were now 19% below 2005 levels, a reduction that “far exceeded” the OECD average. It said the call was constructive, and focused on ways the US and Australia would work together on technological advances to address the problem.

Most of the reduction in Australia’s emissions came between 2007 and 2013, when Labor was in power. Electricity emissions are falling due to the rise of solar and wind energy, but the recent projections suggested transport and industrial emissions were not expected to reduce over the next decade under existing policies.

The Morrison summary mentioned the possibility of “hydrogen breakthroughs” playing a critical role in reducing global emissions, particularly in developing countries. It said he and Kerry agreed “there was increasing momentum in business and finance in driving economic opportunities from the transition to the new energy economy”, and that Australia was keen to be a part of this.

The Australian ambassador to the US, Arthur Sinodinos, this week implied the Morrison government was considering updating its targets before the Glasgow conference, known as Cop26.

Sinodinos told the US Studies Centre event in Canberra it was “better to underpromise and overdeliver” when setting emission reduction targets, and Australia wanted to work with the US on technologies that would “really move the dial”.

“Our view is targets are something which are important in their own regard, and Australia is doing further work on what that means in the future as we go to Cop26,” he said.



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