The IEA, which advises rich countries on energy issues from its headquarters in Paris, said only 40 percent of the 25 energy efficiency policy recommendations it made in 2008 have been implemented.
"The recommendations alone could -- if implemented globally without delay -- save 8.2 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2030," roughly twice the European Union's yearly emissions, the IEA said in a statement Monday.
Yet countries are lagging behind implementing the recommendations, the group says.
"Even the countries that are most proactive on energy efficiency have implemented less than 60 percent of the IEA energy efficiency recommendations," IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said in a statement. "This shows that although clearly energy efficiency can save energy and CO2 emissions at very little or no cost, barriers remain for governments to put effective policies in place."
In a bid to reverse that trend, the IEA has launched a paper to show governments how they improve energy efficiency according to their national and policy circumstances.
The first such "policy pathway" targets the appliance sector, responsible for roughly 15 percent of the electricity consumption in IEA member countries.
The IEA says concrete policy programs such as efficiency standards for refrigerators can yield short-term energy savings benefits at relatively low cost. The policy pathway provides policymakers with "practical 'how-to' guides for designing, implementing and evaluating energy efficiency policies."
"In these times of austerity, governments can conserve resources by benefiting from the experiences and lessons learned by other countries," the IEA said.
Australia has been a model student when it comes to appliance efficiency. Since 1992, consumer appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers have had to be labeled according to their energy consumption. The government answered compliance breaches with severe fines and even lawsuits and, as a result, "Australia now rivals the best reported compliance rates in the world of this form of standards and labeling requirement," the IEA says.
The group has long promoted energy efficiency programs. In 1999, it launched the "One Watt Initiative" to ensure through international cooperation that by 2010 all new appliances sold in the world only use one watt in standby mode.
The IEA estimated the program would reduce CO2 emissions by 50 million tons in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries -- the equivalent to removing 18 million cars from the roads.