Recently established carbon governance systems are quite different in Brazil, China, and India. Such divergence is surprising as emerging economies are primarily involved in carbon governance through the clean development mechanism (CDM). One would expect similar institutional and policy outcomes in the major host countries in response to the CDM, as this market instrument is initiated primarily by Western companies and regulated hierarchically by the internationally governed CDM Executive Board. However, from a closer look at the developing features of the CDM markets in Brazil, China, or India and an analysis of dominant actors and their interactions, institutional responses, and the effectiveness of the CDM within each market, there is evidence of a high variance, combined with a strong ownership by the respective governments. Such a variety of carbon governance is interesting from a theoretical point of view as it shows that a good understanding of environmental governance patterns is still lacking in developing and emerging economies. It is also of political importance as the findings may help to diffuse some of the criticism leveled at the CDM.