Pressure on UN climate talks to deliver

The UN climate conference in Germany is not expected to deliver a sexy outcome this year but its president, Fiji, wants to achieve something tangible.

Amid the excitement of nearly 20,000 environmental campaigners gathered in one space, the world's diplomats are getting on with the job.

The negotiations at the UN's COP23 climate conference are largely technical and slowly filling in details of the rules that will govern implementation of the 2015 Paris agreement.

But it's never been anticipated those rules will be finalised - or even be more than a skeleton to be fleshed out over the next year - by the end of this two-week conference in Germany.

Elina Bardram, a senior official with the European Union delegation, says it can be difficult to present "kind of outlines and elements of text" to the ministers and dignitaries who will arrive in Bonn for high-level talks next week and say that they're "deliverable", but that's the nature of where the work program is at.

It's also tricky for the Fijians, who hold the COP presidency this year and are keen to ensure the first small island state leadership delivers something.

"For the Fijian presidency, it's a difficult year to demonstrate real celebration of progress when the Paris work program is expected to be delivered in 2018," Ms Bardram told AAP in Bonn.

"There is pressure to deliver something quite specific ... I think that pressure is manifesting itself in a bit of frustration on the one hand with the small island states wanting to have clear political deliverables and on the other hand other parties wanting to focus on the work program."

Former Kiribati president Anote Tong, who has long advocated for strong climate action, says people must not be intimated by the complex negotiations.

"What we want and what we need is fairly clear; how to achieve it is really a matter of detail," he told AAP.

"We have to believe that we can do what needs to be done, otherwise there's no point in even bothering to get into the exercise of doing it."

One of the tensions is striking the right balance between making sure the rules are detailed enough to be useful but not excessively prescriptive - a point Australian officials have made in several sessions.

One of the key things COP23 is expected to achieve is a structure for the so-called facilitative dialogue, which the Fijians want to rename the Talanoa dialogue.

This is a year-long process to establish where countries are up to in working towards their Paris commitments, where they should be and how to get there.

It's an important discussion in the lead up to the first progress stocktake at the 2018 conference and Fiji wants parties to embrace the Pacific's Talanoa spirit of inclusive and transparent dialogue with space to share stories, build empathy and make wise decisions.

Ms Bardram says the EU would see landing that - and making sure there is a specific time at the interim meeting in May where countries and stakeholders can share their progress - as "a very significant deliverable" for COP23 and Fiji.

"But again, it's about perception and kind of pressure," she says.

"What's really important is that ... we find solutions that allow us to move forward and produce a success here so that we somehow we don't undermine the Fijian presidency."

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