What is Competitive Climate?

This competition was created to inspire undergraduate students to think critically about the complexities involved in devising United States climate change policy. The competition is open nation-wide to groups of 2-5 students, each of which is challenged to think about three dimensions of climate change– the physical drivers behind climate change itself, the conceptual frameworks in economics for analyzing issues related to climate change and emissions reductions, and finally, effective policymaking strategies to combat the problem. Interested students should refer to the content guide to better understand what sort of resources can be used, how they may wish to structure their presentations, or what kinds of concepts they may want to analyze in depth. However, participants have a great deal of freedom in this competition and may choose to answer the question using as many or as few of the guidelines as they wish. The best presentations will be those whose responses are thoroughly backed up by existing literature while presenting the subject with creativity and enthusiasm.

Competitive Climate

We are happy to announce the winners of the 2014 Competitive Climate environmental policy competition.


The Columbia Economics Review invites groups of 1 - 5 undergraduates and graduates to participate in our 2nd annual symposium competition on the economics of US climate change legislation by submitting a policy recommendation and analysis via a 10 - 15 minute PowerPoint presentation and commentary on the presentation. The team’s recommendation should analyze and discuss the economics of climate change solutions and legislation in the United States. Should the government act? How should it act? The teams with the best presentations will qualify for the final round in late January, when the judges will ask the teams questions specific to climate policy concepts related to their presentations. The winning team will then be awarded a prize of $500 and the runner-up will receive $250, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Columbia Economics Department, and will be recognized in Columbia Economics Review and by The Earth Institute.  

Participants must submit:

  • A 10-15 minute PowerPoint presentation
  • A commentary on the presentation (in any format)

Participants must also meet the following deadlines:

  • December 14: Registration here
  • January 15: Submission of PowerPoint presentation and commentary


Fifteen years after the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the United States remains without a comprehensive plan for addressing climate change. Renewable energy, carbon capture and hybrid transportation all seem technologically realizable, but not economically or politically competitive enough for large-scale implementation. What are the market failures associated with climate change? And how would you best incentivize transition toward an economically sensible, carbon-accountable U.S. economy?

Proposals will be judged by both Columbia University and Earth Institute faculty, and the winning presentation will be scored on:

  • An evidence-driven analysis of climate science research along with projections for future environmental and economic costs associated with climate change. [Climate Science, Economics]
  • A sensible outline of policies and programs that will effectively address the market failures associated with climate change. [Economics, Engineering/Technology]
  • A well-researched discussion of the primary and secondary economic effects of the team's proposal. [Economics]
  • An analysis of how domestic and international political constraints affect the probability and impact of enacting the team's proposal [Political Science, Economics]

The competition emphasizes a thorough analysis of the economics and policy-specifics of climate change solutions, though we encourage the inclusion of insights from environmental science, engineering, and political science to the proposal. To get a better sense of the kinds of concepts we hope you address in your presentation, please take a look at our Content Guide.


Important Deadlines

The registration deadline by which participants must submit the names of their group members, their university/institution, and a basic plan for their presentation is December 14, 2013.

PowerPoint presentations and commentaries must be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 11:59PM, January 15, 2014.     


The winners of Competitive Climate will have their work recognized in the Spring 2014 issue of Columbia Economics Review and by The Earth Institute. In addition, the winning team will receive $500 and the runner-up will receive $250. 

Technical Support: If participants encounter difficulties in submitting their work or meeting any one of the three deadlines, please contact
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for assistance.  



Gernot Wagner is an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, where he works on market-based solutions to a wide range of environmental problems.


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