This UNESCO World Heritage site pledges to be 100% carbon neutral by 2050

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu, which is one of the new seven wonders of the world, is aiming to be a carbon-neutral site.

Set in the Andes Mountains in Peru, the fortress was built in the 15th century and later abandoned. It’s renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, intriguing buildings that work based on astronomical alignments and panoramic views. Its exact former use remains a mystery till now.

Now, the incredible archaeological delight is making efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The goal right now is to progressively reduce carbon footprint so that it can cut down 45 percent emissions by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. The popular tourist site that attracts numerous visitors every year, opened up last November after the lockdown and is setting up to follow the climate agreement guidelines of Paris.

Suffering from climate change

Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and it happens to be a natural habitat of species such as the Andean bear, apart from orchids, and endemic birds. However, it is one of the most fragile and threatened ecosystems. The loss of cloud forests is a serious threat due to diverse factors, including population growth and unregulated land use for livestock, logging, and migratory agriculture, which derives into habitat alteration and other negative effects.

The United Nations warned in September 2019 that the world goes through a period of climate emergency, from which Machu Picchu is no exception. This situation, more visible than ever, is not a natural phenomenon but the outcome of relatively few decades of excessive carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, which nowadays accumulate in the atmosphere and affect the climate regulation of the planet.

How will Machu Picchu become carbon neutral?

The latest initiative will see public and private investment, and will also aim to involve itself in activities that have a positive impact on the environment. Among these activities, one is to expand organic waste treatment, and reduce the use of plastic here. Tourists will also be encouraged to check their own carbon emissions when they visit the site.

According to the World Tourism Organization of the UN, almost five percent of the total carbon emissions of Peru comes from tourism. With this green initiative, the country is pushing towards sustainable development, and taking direct action against climate change.

There are three levels of action when it comes to reduction of carbon emissions. The first talks about the destination, and how it is committed to being carbon neutral. The second is of enterprises, involving corporates. The third deals with tourists who can help by travelling better.