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Renewable Energy and Non Renewable Energy

New York, USA
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Vulnerability: A generally applicable conceptual framework for climate change research

Author(s): Füssel HM

Abstract

The term ‘vulnerability’ is used in many different ways by various scholarly communities. The resulting disagreement about the appropriate definition of vulnerability is a frequent cause for misunderstanding in interdisciplinary research on climate change and a challenge for attempts to develop formal models of vulnerability. Earlier attempts at reconciling the various conceptualizations of vulnerability were, at best, partly successful. This paper presents a generally applicable conceptual framework of vulnerability that combines a nomenclature of vulnerable situations and a terminology of vulnerability concepts based on the distinction of four fundamental groups of vulnerability factors. This conceptual framework is applied to characterize the vulnerability concepts employed by the main schools of vulnerability research and to review earlier attempts at classifying vulnerability concepts. None of these one-dimensional classification schemes reflects the diversity of vulnerability concepts identified in this review. The wide range of policy responses available to address the risks from global climate change suggests that climate impact, vulnerability, and adaptation assessments will continue to apply a variety of vulnerability concepts. The framework presented here provides the much-needed conceptual clarity and facilitates bridging the various approaches to researching vulnerability to climate change.

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