Quantitative assessments help to highlight the main features of climate policies by better identifying their strengths and weaknesses. In this study, we develop a grading system for assessing thirteen proposals for post-2012 climate policy. We believe that these proposals contain appropriate policy instruments which will be considered for discussions about how to design the post-2012 climate agreement. Our grades are based on four criteria: environmental effectiveness, cost effectiveness, distributional considerations and institutional feasibility. We analyze the grades with two complementary methods: principal component and cluster analysis. Our results entail three policy implications. Firstly, the higher the number of policy instruments a proposal comprises, the more difficult might be its implementation. Secondly, proposals which include a meaningful effort by the U.S. tend to fail in environmental effectiveness and institutional feasibility. Thirdly, we identify that the ‘‘first best’’ and the ‘‘second best’’ approaches belong to a stable policy group, and both may be considered as suitable candidates for post-2012 climate policy.