Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has spectacularly intervened as Australia faces continued pressure on climate action in the Pacific, while New Zealand is being hailed as a champion.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Pacific counterparts have been locked in negotiations since Thursday morning over the wording of the final message from the Pacific Islands Forum.
Australia is at odds with the smaller nations over the mention of phrases relating to coal and in reducing emissions.
Mr Turnbull says climate action is a key priority of Australia's Pacific Step Up plan which he launched in 2016.
"It may be political to some, but it's existential in the Pacific," he tweeted.
His social media intervention comes as Mr Morrison works to water down language in the forum's final statement, notably on calls to phase out coal and references to a climate change crisis.
During negotiations Mr Morrison has talked up Australia's environmental credentials and offered a $2 million sweetener to Pacific leaders to help the region with oil spills and other maritime pollution.
It adds to $500 million of redirected aid funding going towards the region.
Mr Morrison's recent environmental announcements have been broader than climate change, also focusing on recycling and ocean waste.
It's understood there have been tensions between NZ and Australian negotiators over siding with the Pacific on climate.
Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama has praised Kiwi leader Jacinda Ardern, saying it's good to have an ally like New Zealand in the Pacific's corner.
"Together, we can save Tuvalu, the Pacific, and the world," he tweeted in the midst of negotiations.
But Ms Ardern's comments earlier this week that "Australia has to answer to the Pacific" on climate change have sparked a storm, prompting radio shock jock Alan Jones to say Mr Morrison should "shove a sock down the throat" of the Kiwi.
Mr Bainimarama and Mr Turnbull have returned serve to the broadcaster in defence of the NZ leader.
"Try saying that to a Tuvaluan child pleading for help," Mr Bainimarama tweeted.
Mr Jones says he meant to say "put a sock in it".
"This wilful misinterpretation distracts from my point that she was wrong about climate change and wrong about Australia's contribution to carbon dioxide levels," he said in a statement.
Smaller island nations announced their own climate change declaration earlier in the week-long forum, calling for an immediate global ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coal mines.
They also want the final statement to say global temperature rises should be limited to 1.5 degrees - fearing catastrophic consequences of a greater rise - which Ms Ardern has backed.
But Mr Morrison will face pressure within the Liberal Party if the language of the communique is too strong.
Before the final negotiations, Tuvalu's prime minister Enele Sopoaga said it would be "symbolically unfortunate" if Australia waters down the communique.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has accused the government of not having a climate policy, but says coal will be part of Australia's energy mix into the future.
Australian Associated Press