Monica Brinkman (above right) is not your typical environmental activist. Born in Ontario, Canada, Monica is a mosaic artist that grew up in Beaconsfield near Montréal. Her work is at the intersection of art and craft using a variety of materials, colors and textures. Through stained glass, ceramic tiles, porcelain or simple buttons, Monica conveys powerful messages of justice, peace, solidarity and community. She believes in ‘making the world a more beautiful place one piece at a time.’ Throughout her career, Monica has used her work to shed light on the environmental crisis. Her latest work, titled ‘Handle with Care’ (seen further below) is a perfect example of art meeting sustainability.

A selection of Monica’s wall art mosaics

Only by working at the intersection of disciplines can we build strong and sustainable support for bold and inclusive climate actions.

Asking for Divestment from Fossil Fuels

On September 8, 2017, Climate Reality Canada co-hosted the Rassemblement Sortons la Caisse du Carbone, to express disagreement with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ)’s investments in the fossil fuel industry. [Article here.] The CDPQ manages more than $270 billion dollars, primarily of retirement funds and insurance plans.

What most people don’t know is that last year $18.5 billion of that amount (almost 7%) was invested in the oil and gas industry. Many don’t realize that their retirement plans could be helping to fund big corporations who are decimating our environment and disregarding Native American rights.

At the protest, hundreds of black balloons were used to represent the carbon bubble. Those balloons were made of latex, but they wanted to make sure the environmental impact of the event was minimal, so all balloons were collected and passed on to Monica Brinkman who used the pieces to create a colorful piece of art. This is how ‘Handle with Care’ was born.


colorful mosaic circle art incorporating black latex balloons remnant from a protest

“Handle With Care” by Monica Brinkman

The mosaic represents an oil spill in a natural ecosystem, where amphibians, insects and other animals thrive. A blue tie was used to portray a water stream. Can you spot the many eyes she included in her work? Monica wanted to include a reminder that citizens are watching.

Not only does Monica impersonate a “different kind of environmentalist”, but she also reminds us that whatever our background or occupation, we can make the preservation of our environment a priority. Only by working at the intersection of disciplines can we build strong and sustainable support for bold and inclusive climate actions.

Since then…

Since that protest, the CDPQ committed to increasing its low-carbon investment portfolio from $16 to $24 billion by 2020, and to reduce the carbon footprint of all of its investments by 25% by 2025. In 2017, the CDPQ stabilized the proportion of fossil fuel in their global portfolio to 6.2%. They also started an exit process for specific sectors (coal and oil sands).

However, this is not enough. The CDPQ’s absolute investments in fossil fuels grew by $1.5 billion in 2017. The CDPQ must aim to diminish the absolute value of its carbon emissions, not only the relative intensity. Sortons la Caisse du Carbone asks the Caisse to go further and faster when it comes to its transition so we limit global temperature increase to well below 2°C. This means within five years we need to divest from all companies that don’t have a clear plan to quickly and effectively reduce and eliminate their reliance on fossil fuels.

‘Handle with Care’ is now displayed in Maison du développement durable in Montreal. To get more information on Coalition Sortons la Caisse du Carbone, read the latest report here.

Thank you to Climate Reality Canada for this post originally posted on their website!

More work from Monica Brinkman

The Brain Project 2016 raised $ 1.3 million to support care and research into brain health and aging at Baycrest Health Sciences.

“Jolene” by Monica Brinkman

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