Morocco

located IN northwest Africa, the Kingdom of Morocco covers an area of 172,414 sq. mi. (446,550 sq. km.), with a population of 31,224,000, 49 percent of which lives in urban areas. The country has a population density of 181 people per sq. mi. (69.8 people per sq. km.), although few people live in the Western Sahara region.

Twenty-one percent of the land in Morocco is arable, with another 47 percent used for meadows and pasture. The agricultural sector, including fishing, accounts for nearly a third of all export earn ings; main crops include wheat and fruit, especially oranges. With 91.3 percent of Morocco's electricity production coming from fossil fuels, and only 8.7 percent from hydropower, and increased industrialization in the country, the per capita rate of emissions of carbon dioxide still remains relatively low at one metric ton in 1990, rising to 1.2 metric tons per person in 2004. Sixty percent of the country's total carbon dioxide emissions come from liquid fuels, 29 percent from fossil fuels, and 11 percent from the manufacture of cement. The high use of liquid fuels comes from the heavy use of oil, a quarter of which comes from Saudi Arabia, and a fifth from the United Arab Emirates, supplemented by some local production of oil and gas, with Morocco having to import electricity from Algeria. In addition to use in automobiles, liquid fuels is used to run generators on isolated properties and farms, and as a reliable source of electricity in many urban areas.

Since the 1980s, the government has tried to develop a program for the generation of hydroelectric power, but hydroelectric plants have failed to generate anywhere near the planned output. One of the problems has been that the hydroelectric facility at Ammogguez in the Atlas Mountains has experienced cave-ins in the hydro tunnels because of gypsum. The possibility of oil in the Western Sahara is expected to generate new wealth for the country, along with a probabile rise in greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of the carbon dioxide emissions by sector, 35 percent comes from electricity and heat production, 18 percent from manufacturing and construction, and 11 percent from residential use, with only 6 percent from transportation, a figure kept low by the extensive public transport network, with a bus service covering much of the country.

Global warming and climate change will affect the agricultural base of Morocco, leading to less land available for farming and declining crop production. This will come about through longer droughts that have been affecting Morocco for many centuries, but which have rarely lasted longer than two years. The Moroccan government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and ratified the Vienna Convention in 1995. They accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on January 25, 2002, which took effect on February 16, 2005. The Moroccan government has also signaled its support for the Clean Development Mechanism as part of its National Sustainable Development Strategy.

SEE ALSO: Agriculture; Drought; Oil, Production of.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. Sara Chamberlain, "Herbal Remedies," Geographical (v.72/6, 2000); Nabil Chbouki, Spatio-Temporal Characteristics of Drought as Inferred from Tree Ring Data in Morocco (Cedrus atlantica) (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Arizona, 1992); World Resources Institute, "Morocco—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007); Erla Zwingle, "Morocco," National Geographic (v.190/4, 1996).

Robin S. Corfield Independent Scholar

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