The empirical link between governance and illegal logging is widely accepted amongst scientist, although a minority still purports that illegal logging does not necessarily prevail because of poor governance. However, the nexus linking governance, illegal logging and carbon emission is not well enshrined in scientific literature. This paper seeks to review the literature on illegal logging and governance and empirically investigate the effect of illegal logging and governance effectiveness on carbon emission. Using panel dynamic ordinary least square method on data covering three Congo Basin timber-producing countries and three Asian timber-producing countries, this paper further investigates disaggregated effects between these two groups of countries. The empirical evidence underscores that Congo Basin timber-producing countries are characterised by increasing trend of illegal logging, poor governance effectiveness and corruption. Panel regression reveals a positive and significant impact of illegal logging, governance effectiveness and corruption on carbon emission. Asian producing countries depict a reducing trend in illegal logging and improvements in governance and corruption. There is a positive but not significant impact of illegal logging on carbon emission, and governance effectiveness reduces carbon emission. Thus, the dynamics of governance, illegal logging and carbon emission is not the same between timber-producing countries in Asia and Congo producing counties, thus suggesting the ability of institutions to curb illegal logging and enforce laws to reduce the effects of carbon emission. Multi-stakeholder consultations, government engagement, partnerships and training of control staff can help curb corruption. Legality checks should go beyond having legal documents to effectively check and control of timber concessions and small-scale logging.