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Handle With Care: When Art Meets Sustainability

By Émilie Campbell-Renaud

· Advocacy Stories

Monica Brinkman, or the intersection between art and sustainability

Monica Brinkman 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, as she uses 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.

Throughout her career, Monica used her work to shed light on the environmental crisis. Her latest work, titled ‘Handle with Care’ is a perfect example of art meeting sustainability.

Asking the CDPQ to Divest from Fossil Fuels

On September 8, 2017, Climate Reality Canada co-hosted the Rassemblement Sortons la Caisse du Carbone, to express our disagreement with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ)'s investments in the fossil fuel industry. The CDPQ manages more than $270 billion dollars, primarily from retirement funds and insurance plans. What most people don’t know is that, last year, 18.5 billion dollars of that amount was invested in the oil and gas industry, meaning that without even knowing it, your retirement plan could help fund the big corporations defiling our environment and disregarding First Nation’s rights.

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

broken image

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 if we work 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 dollars 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, to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C. This means, within 5 years, to divest from all companies without a clear plan to quickly and effectively reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Want to get more information on Coalition Sortons la Caisse du Carbone? Read the latest report here.


‘Handle with Care’ is now displayed in Maison du développement durable in Montreal.