The recent creation of a loss and damage fund under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was heralded as a major breakthrough for Global South negotiators. As details of the fund are currently being negotiated, some analysts are calling for ‘objective’ means through which funding would be allocated to ‘particularly vulnerable’ developing countries. On the basis of a review of past debates relating to the identification of priority beneficiaries of international adaptation finance, we caution that such an approach is likely to bring division and delay. Quantitative vulnerability indicators remain conceptually fraught and methodologically complex. Furthermore, the adoption of vulnerability indicators will not fully depoliticize allocation decisions, given the power dynamics between and among contributor and beneficiary countries.