A proposed Chinese ban on funeral supplies used for mourning the dead sparked an on-line debate last week as netizens voiced their opinions. Chinese funerals include many traditional paraphernalia which is polluting the environment.
The ban comes as the Asian country moves toward its goals of carbon neutrality by 2060. Meanwhile, a new trend is gaining popularity as mourners opt for an LED Wreath as funeral decorations.
China Proposes Ban on Funeral Supplies
The Shanxi Provincial Department of Justice posted on its website Monday the plans for regulations on funeral administration in the province. Listed among the draft of regulations is a ban on funeral paraphernalia and supplies. These include “hell money”, paper houses, and paper figures which are traditionally burned during ceremonies.
Specifically, the draft of the article states that in order to sell these supplies, companies must go through several steps. This includes registering with regulatory authorities and asking for permission from the civil affairs department.
Additionally, the new regulations would place a ban on coffins and other objects used for earth burials. Oftentimes coffins are sold to crematoriums where cremation takes place. Earth burial supplies can still be sold to ethnic minorities who continue to observe these types of burials within the province, however.
China Going Green by 2060
China’s current plan to cut its carbon emissions significantly over the next 40 years is ‘largely consistent’ with the Paris Agreement, one study says. The goal is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, but getting there will be difficult for the world’s largest emitter.
China needs to cut its total CO2 emissions by more than 90%, and drop it’s energy consumption by 39%. These percentages are compared to total emissions and usage, as if there were no policy regulating them. Things are going well, since President Xi Jinping announced that China would reach carbon neutrality before 2060.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences professor Dr. Duan commented on the difficulties of reaching this goal. “If China aims for the carbon-neutral goal, it doesn’t mean that it can fulfil the emission-reduction requirements of the 1.5C goal. The 1.5C goal is tougher and stricter.”
The Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 with 196 parties adopting it at COP 21. The goal is to reach pre-industrial levels of warming. Notably, China and the United States both joined the treaty at the same time, after the G20 Summit in 2016.
Citizens React to Bans On-Line
Despite China’s efforts to reach international climate goals, there was still pushback from citizens. Some members of the community took offence to the proposed regulations, saying that they were ‘not appropriate’.
“These funeral supplies such as ‘hell money’ are a way of expressing mourning to the dead. It’s not appropriate to describe these items as feudal superstition,” one user wrote.
“It’s a funeral tradition with over a thousand years of history,” said another commenter. “[The government] should reduce its interference in secular life.”
While many objected to the ban, there was some productive discussion. Some users commented that there were other ways to mourn the dead such as buying flowers. This way, they argue, mourning doesn’t increase pollution to the environment.
LED Wreath Trend Grows in China
The streets lining the entrance to Goh Kim Gek’s funeral memorial were lined with colorful wreaths. Chinese funerals are often adorned with flowers and many traditional supplies including paper figurines and decorations. However, the wreaths are not your typical flower wreaths. Instead they are part of a new trend growing in China where families mourn loved ones with an LED funeral wreath.
80-year-old Goh passed away in her home on August 15th and was a much loved member of the community. After growing up in Malaysia and moving to Singapore, she married and had four children. For work she tapped rubber sap, and later worked as a bus ticket inspector. She had also worked at a shipyard in her earlier years.
In her forties, Goh made a Taoist altar in her home which community members could visit for worship. She was an altruistic person and made many friends. It was no surprise that her memory was celebrated with abundant decorations organized by friends and family.
These types of supplies can be more sustainable than traditional paraphernalia which often contaminates the environment. Burning paper and money releases toxic fumes and the packaging of these supplies increases pollution. An LED wreath could signal the future of mourning as China pushes for more ways to cut back on its emissions.