Climate reform and transitional industry assistance: windfall profits for polluters?

Alastair Fraser, Jonathan Chiew Sheen Kuok, Gordon W. Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introducing climate change policies such as carbon pricing can bring substantial costs for fossil-fuel-fired electricity generators, with incumbents often granted a transitional allocation of free emission permits. The free allocation of emission permits and the pass-through of carbon prices to higher electricity prices has created substantial concern that these policies allow emissions-intensive firms to reap windfall profits. We use the implementation and later repeal of Australia's price on carbon to show that coal-fired plants which received free permits had a substantial increase in their profits. This result supports calls for any transitional climate policy assistance to be tied to projected pass-through rates in order to avoid creating wealth transfers from taxpayers to emission-intensive generator owners.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106629
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Economics
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Cost pass-through
  • Electric utilities
  • Energy and environmental policy
  • Environmental taxes
  • Policy grandfathering

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