Market based instruments have become a common feature in country policies aimed at transitioning to low carbon economies. BRICS countries are responsible for approximately two-thirds of the global average of carbon emissions. These countries are under continuing international pressure to demonstrate leadership in their carbon emission reduction efforts.This research explored the implementation of market based instruments in Brazil, China, India and South Africa as they transition to low carbon economies and determined the elements and driving forces informing the selection of market based instruments. The research sought to achieve three objectives, the first objective was to establish whether market based instruments were regarded as a policy option for low carbon transition initiatives by these four countries. The second objective was to determine the drivers and sectors informing a selection of market based instruments. The third objective was to extract lessons from these countries for South African to consider in its low carbon transition.The research outcomes included a model of the interrelationship between driving forces for decisions to adopt market based instruments, targeted sectors that would be subjected to such mechanisms and the eventual combination of instruments that gets implemented.