India is the world's second-largest host of projects implemented under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). There is, however, considerable variation in the distribution of CDM projects implemented across different Indian states. While a large body of the literature examines cross-national variation in the implementation of CDM projects, few studies have analyzed the determinants of sub-national variation in different national contexts. We theorize that given India’s laissez-faire approach to CDM project implementation the availability of profitable climate mitigation opportunities and the political stability are two factors that promote CDM project implementation. Using sub-national data collected from a variety of sources, we conduct systematic analysis that provides empirical support for a set of hypotheses regarding the effects of these variables on project implementation. First, we find that states with a lot of public electricity-generating capacity and industrial capital implement more CDM projects than other states. Additionally, project developers rarely propose CDM projects during election years as a result of high levels of political uncertainty associated with those years. Our findings show that India’s liberal approach prevents the central government from using the CDM to promote sustainable development in less developed states. In India and other host countries where coordinated national policies to maximize their gains from CDM projects is absent, there is a paucity of project implementation in states that need it the most.