The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has the capacity to incentivize the international transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Given that both countries are expected to have similar incentives when managing the distribution of technology transfer within the country, why do sub-national patterns in the allocation of projects with technology transfer differ? Using comparable political–economic data compiled for China and India, we offer an explanation for these differences. In China, where the government regards the CDM as a tool for achieving sustainable development, technology transfer is concentrated in provinces that need it the most and that are most conducive to receiving transfers (i.e., economically less developed, yet heavily industrialized provinces). In India, where the government takes on a “laissez-faire” approach to the CDM, neither level of economic development nor that of industrialization affects clean technology transfer. In this regard, although the incentives are similar, the capacity to pursue them is not comparable. We test these hypotheses using data on CDM technology transfer across Chinese provinces and Indian states during the 6-year period from 2004 to 2010.