Australia has block an effort by smaller nations at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to put out a strong statement calling for urgent action to combat climate change.

Some had hoped that all 18 nations attending the forum in Tuvalu would back a call for establish policies to limit temperature rises to no more than 1.5 C degrees above pre-industrial levels.  The smaller island nations - that are already dealing with rising seas caused by man-made global warming which makes ice melt at the poles - agreed to a powerful demand a global ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coalmines, and for all countries to rapidly phase out use of coal in the power sector.

But Australia insisted that another statement be drafted which included less stringent terms on coal use and emissions reduction; it also included a sentence explain that not all attendees at the PIF agreed with the statement from the smaller nations.  All references to coal were removed from the summit-ending communique.  

"It's not incumbent on any member state to endorse that statement, it's a statement of the small Pacific states," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

But environmental campaigner Greenpeace said that watering down the communique could make Australia "the pariah of the Pacific".

"How does Morrison reconcile calling the Pacific family while he persistently ignores our demands for Australia to reduce its emissions?" asked Joseph Moeono-Kolio, Greenpeace's Pacific head.