Based on research into multiple types of climate change mitigation and adaptation (CCMA) projects and policies in Cambodia, this paper documents intersecting social and environmental conflicts that bear striking resemblance to well-documented issues in the history of development projects. Using data from three case studies, we highlight the ways that industrial development and CCMA initiatives are intertwined in both policy and project creation, and how this confluence is creating potentials for maladaptive outcomes. Each case study involves partnerships between international institutions and the national government, each deploys CCMA as either a primary or supporting legitimation, and each failed to adhere to institutional and/or internationally recognized standards of justice. In Cambodia, mismanaged projects are typically blamed on the kleptocratic and patrimonial governance system. We show how such blame obscures the collusion of international partners, who also sidestep their own safeguards, and ignores the potential for maladaptation at the project level and the adverse social and environmental impacts of the policies themselves.