Vulnerability is the degree to which a system is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes.
Elements of vulnerability to climate change include: the type, magnitude, and rate of climate change to which a system is exposed, its sensitivity, and its adaptive capacity.
Vulnerability to climate change refers to the propensity of human and ecological systems to suffer harm and their ability to respond to stresses imposed as a result of climate change effects.
The vulnerability of a society is influenced by its development path, physical exposures, the distribution of resources, prior stresses and social and government institutions.
All societies have inherent abilities to deal with certain variations in climate, yet adaptive capacities are unevenly distributed, both across countries and within societies.
The poor and marginalised have historically been most at risk, and are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Vulnerability assessment can be used to identify, quantify and prioritise (or rank) the vulnerabilities in a system.
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- IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group 2 report Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability , Chapter 19