Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada could teach the United States some lessons on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Baird tells The Canadian Press that the Obama administration should follow Canada’s lead on working to cut back on the use of coal-fired electricity generation.

Baird was responding to remarks by U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson, who said last week that President Barack Obama’s state-of-the-union address calling for swift action on climate change should also be interpreted as a challenge to Ottawa.

The Harper government has for years said it would remain in lockstep with the U.S. on climate change, but Baird is saying Canada has gone even further on coal.

Baird’s comments come as environmentalists descended on Washington for a major protest of Canada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline to carry Alberta oilsands bitumen to the U.S. Gulf coast.

A similar protest last year forced Obama to postpone the controversial Keystone decision until after the November presidential election.