Adaptation priorities are usually identified based on the results of top-down, impacts-based assessments that may fail to represent the true social nature of vulnerability to climate change. This paper reviews recent studies to highlight the social nature of vulnerability and to consider the ways in which adaptation may or may not protect the most vulnerable.

The paper describes the ‘quadruple injustice’ and considers whether public attitudes towards fairness might be invoked to address this injustice by supporting new governance arrangements that transfer resources from high emitters to the most vulnerable.

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