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Keywords:

  • grandfathering;
  • emissions trading;
  • compensation;
  • adjustment assistance
  • Q52;
  • Q58

The terms “grandfather clause” and “grandfathering” describe elements of a policy programme in which existing participants in an activity are protected from the impact of regulations, restrictions or charges applied to new entrants. In this paper, the role of grandfathering in the design of a carbon emissions trading scheme in Australia is assessed. It is argued that adjustment assistance policies such as those adopted in conjunction with previous microeconomic reform programmes are preferable to policies based on the free issue of emission permits. The suggestion that owners of capital assets should be compensated for changes in government policy that reduce the expected flow of income from those assets represents a radical, and undesirable, policy innovation.