Dominic Raab is calling on the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, to “stretch” climate targets.

The British foreign secretary said the Australian government needs to step up climate commitments before the summit.

Morrison has not set a net zero target and continues to avoid making new commitments.

Raab said: “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. I know Australia will step up to the plate.”

“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.”

Last week, the UK and the US issued a statement and urged 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”.

Arthur Sinodinos, the  Australian ambassador to the US suggested that Morrison will update climate targets before the summit. He said it was “better to underpromise and overdeliver”.

“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 added.