Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has raised concerns that the looming Paris climate deal may give short shrift to human rights and rights of indigenous people, as negotiators worked through the night to reach an accord by Friday's deadline.
In a plenary session early Thursday morning, Ms. McKenna highlighted what she described as the "critically important" issue that Canadians negotiators have stressed throughout the negotiations: that human and indigenous rights must be adequately recognized in the agreement.
"We are deeply concerned that the reference to human rights and rights of indigenous peoples" was still in dispute, both in the preamble and in the body of the draft text, she said.
Several developing nations – including the Philippines – are also pushing to have the agreement contain statements that implementation of the agreement must be done in a manner consistent with respect for such rights. One concrete concern: that the effort to reverse deforestation in tropical countries could push subsistence farmers off their land.
The Liberal government has put aboriginal rights high on its agenda as it begins to govern following the October election. And Ms. McKenna has said Ottawa will consult with First Nations leaders, as well as provinces and territories, as the government looks to forge a national climate strategy that will respect the goals of any deal reached in Paris.
Negotiators are making a major push to close critical differences over ambition, financing and implementation of the agreement, which will stand for at least five years as the world's over-arching strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing the looming impacts of climate change.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius – who is chairing the conference – was aiming to reach a deal by late Friday, but talks are now expected to extend into the weekend.
At a session Thursday, Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs said that, after Paris, the governments will have connect the "nice words" contained in the agreement with concrete action needed the limit global warming to less than 2 C above pre-industrial levels.
Negotiators were still debating whether to include a more aspirational goal of aiming for no more than 1.5 C of warming, a level seen as critical for island and low-lying Pacific nations who face the brunt of impact.
"I think we have to confront the fact that the political process that is under way is very different from the real world process that's needed for decarbonization," said Mr. Sachs, who also serves as director of the United Nations' sustainable solutions network.
A Paris agreement "will not make it happen; it will just leave the door open to having a chance to have it happen," he said.
Mr. Sachs said the 1.5-degree goal is "even more divorced from reality. He added, however, that it is a laudable one and that, in order for it to be viable, governments will to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.