We are in the early stages of a long and complex transition from a global economy based on fossil energy to an economy based on low carbon renewable energy. However, fossil fuel resources are abundant and widely distributed, and they will remain the dominant source of primary energy for at least the next quarter century. In the United States, displacement of coal by natural gas for electric power generation has done more to reduce CO 2 emissions than all new renewables combined, and this may occur globally for the next decade or two, even if the European Union does not take advantage of its large unconventional natural gas resources. Greater energy efficiency (not including the efficiencies associated with displacement of coal by gas) will also be more important than new renewables. Cost/benefit ratios are important for sustainability of the transition, and some energy efficiency technologies and displacement of coal by natural gas have lower cost/benefit ratios than wind power, solar power or biofuels. Money spent on the large scale deployment of wind, solar and especially biofuels would be better spent on research, development and demonstration of a broader suite of technologies that would support the energy transition, with a focus on improving the cost benefit ratios of already deployed technologies and developing alternatives. Advanced nuclear reactors, engineered geothermal systems, fossil fuel recovery coupled with CO 2 sequestration and pre-combustion or post-combustion decarbonation of fossil fuels with geological CO 2 sequestration are among the technologies that might be more cost effective than wind, solar or biofuels, and biofuels have serious adverse societal and environment consequences.