The debate about whether improving companies' environmental performance has a positive or negative impact on their competitiveness (i.e., their economic performance) has been going on for a long time: environmentalists and the public are pushing for stricter environmental regulations, and politicians, economists and the business community are looking for a compromise between environmental costs and economic efficiency. Understanding this relationship is important for all polemicizing parties, as two objectives are pursued simultaneously: ensuring high environmental quality, which is costly, and obtaining good economic results. It is also important for separating environmental, economic and political goals: whether the policy of "greening" business, implemented in many countries, is a real fight against climate change and bad ecology, or is it used as a tool to mobilize electorate and hide protectionism. Despite the large number of studies conducted in this area, the question of the direction of the causal relationship remains: whether environmental investments lead to higher profits or simply act as indicators of firms with high financial results. The article conducts a comparative analysis of methods and models for the formation of interrelations between environmental and economic characteristics of firms in the context of activating the international environmental agenda as one of the promising directions for the development of economic analysis. The authors show that the relationship between environmental regulation and competitiveness is not the same and depends on the market structure of the industry. In addition, the presence of different approaches to the definition of the concepts of "competitiveness", "economic efficiency", "environmental efficiency", "strictness of regulation", as well as the use of various indicators to measure them pose important analysis problems. The complexity of selecting indirect indicators of environmental regulation and competitiveness, as well as the availability and quality of data also play a significant role. The possibilities and problems of empirical analysis of the relationship between environmental and economic efficiency according to the data of the largest Russian companies and domestic statistics are studied.