In the context of the Cold War, the emergence of the issue of climate change and the need for adaptation is therefore seen as a means of spreading the liberal economic system in Asian and African countries, housing the populations most vulnerable to climate change. Discussing this perspective, Felli denounces the instrumentalization of the notion of adaptation through neoliberal policies aimed at expanding the market by evading the structural causes of vulnerability. Indeed, the origins of food shocks (famines) are exclusively related to natural problems (droughts) rather than to the management of the public authorities in place and to societal organization. Hence, famine episodes are considered to be the result of a lack of adaptive capacity of the poorest populations caused by their exclusion from the market. The pre-existing socio-economic vulnerabilities of these populations are then largely neglected.
To illustrate his point, Felli discusses several examples. For him, the development of microfinance and microcredit is presented as a first tool for adapting to climate change in the South, allowing the extension of the liberal market. Using the example of the Indian province of Andhra Pradesh, Felli demonstrates that by imposing an increased search for productivity that neglects food-producing agriculture, microcredit increases dependence on the market, leading to the indebtedness and bankruptcy of small farmers. Aspiring to alleviate uncertainty and mutualise risks, micro-insurance projects run by multinationals also aim to take advantage of poverty and therefore have no interest in reducing vulnerability but in perpetuating it. From another point of view, to become profitable, the system can only lose the characteristics of its local operation – i.e. the subsidies that enable the poorest to participate and the negotiations with local actors – and increase the vulnerability of the poorest to price variations, since they are led to market their production. He thus concludes that by ignoring the economic and social conditions of the vulnerability of the poorest, new vulnerabilities are created, insidiously bringing the law of the market into the logic of adaptation to climate change.