How can governments apply either a "carrot" or a "stick" to get people and companies to use resources in more sustainable ways?
Offering incentives or penalties are the respective “carrot” and “stick” mechanisms.
Care must be taken when devising such mechanisms in a social context, as the “Law of Unintended Consequences” means that many well-meant actions have results that are both unexpected and more harmful than helpful!
Examples of a “stick” are monetary fines for littering, refusal of allowing an operating license due to health or safety violations, and imprisonment for egregious harmful acts against the community, such as intentional hazardous waste dumping.
Examples of a “carrot” are tax incentives for “green” technology use, like a partial deduction on personal (or corporate) taxes for the expense of a solar energy system installation, or government loans for larger environmentally beneficial projects.