Before the UK went into coronavirus lockdown, the focus of the government was switching from Brexit to Britain’s new place in the world - and how the nation would reach net zero by 2050.

A key part of this strategy was on decarbonising transport, with targets to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2035. Whitehall was busy with plans on electric vehicles and e-scooters - albeit on a timescale of a year or two.

The grounding of the country’s commuters for three months has not derailed this strategy but given it renewed momentum. Just as new workers-from-home noticed for the first time birdsong from city trees and hedgerows and blue skies free from aircraft contrails, the lockdown has provided a clarifying moment for the government about what the next generation of transport should look like.

While motor vehicle use has been creeping back up in recent weeks, those early days of lockdown, with less pollution from petrol and diesel traffic, has strengthened the argument for electric cars.

Ministers brought forward the legalisation of e-scooters on UK’s roads, initially only for licensed rental scooters, from 2021 to this month.

Cycling and walking to work are being encouraged over public transport use, with towns and cities rushing out temporary extra cycle lanes. And crucially, many of those workers will be no longer commuting to the office at all, but working at least part of the time from home.

For the government and the sector, this is a reset moment for transport, both public and private, for everything from zero emission aviation to making walking in cities a safer and less polluting experience.

The challenge is making this moment last beyond the next year or two to 2030 and beyond.

There are concerns about a lack of infrastructure for greener transport like cycling and e-scooters - despite the go-ahead for electric scooters this month, it is still not clear whether existing cycle lanes will be safe for this form of travel. Likewise, the government has said it wants more cyclists on Britain’s roads and yet the building of new lanes to accommodate this is not keeping up with demand.

However there is a broader recognition in Whitehall - which is shared by Boris Johnson and many ministers - that getting to net zero emissions by 2050 is such a huge challenge for industry, government and society that action needs to be taken now, at the start of the 2020s.

The UK became the first major world economy to enshrine the 2050 net zero target into law - last June, as one of the final acts of Theresa May’s government.

Next spring the UK will host the COP26 climate summit, delayed from this autumn due to the pandemic, and ministers want to showcase tangible progress it is making on tackling climate change. Its plans on green transport are a core part of that.

Even if the working from home shift is more of a blip that does not last the decade rather than a revolution, by 2030 more of us will be driving electric vehicles by necessity, due to the 2035 deadline for new petrol and diesel.

The plan for post-coronavirus recovery will see jobs created to work on the electric vehicle sector, including installing a nationwide network of charging points.

Only this week Hitachi Rail UK signed an agreement with the UK battery manufacturer Hyperdrive to develop battery electric trains to replace diesel-powered rolling stock.

But with battery technology heavily reliant on market-dominant China, whose relationship with the UK has entered a new diplomatic chill, there is growing talk in Westminster on the potential for this country to become a leader in hydrogen power.

The Conservative chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, Tom Tugendhat, wrote in The Times last week that hydrogen technology offers “a chance for the UK to achieve energy independence” or otherwise “remain reliant for another generation”. He pointed out that Germany last month announced 9 billion euros of investment in hydrogen technology. If the UK is to compete on its own on the world stage after Brexit, it is likely it will have to try to match that.

The chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, Baroness Brown of Cambridge, said last month: “The UK missed the boat on wind technology and missed the boat on batteries. We can’t afford to miss the boat on hydrogen.”

This emerging industry already has footholds in the north west, Hull and north east, which neatly suits the Prime Minister’s levelled-up agenda.

For transport, those enthusiastic about clean hydrogen power argue that it could be used to drive buses and trains - replacing existing heavy polluting diesel - and even, perhaps by 2030, fly planes across the Atlantic from Heathrow to JFK.

Hybrid truck manufacturer Nikola has announced plans for hydrogen charging stations for its trucks in Europe, including in the UK.

On aviation, Mr Johnson has thrown his weight behind “Jet Zero”, the ambitious plan first announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last month to decarbonise passenger flights within a generation.

The Jet Zero Council brings together not only traditional aviation giants but environmental groups. As part of its Jet Zero plans the government has already invested £500,000 in Velocys, a company which is working on turning household waste into “sustainable aviation fuel” and is developing a plant in Immingham, Lincolnshire.

A lot of this focus is not just about a shift to greener transport for its own sake but out of economic necessity. The rail and aviation industries have been hit hard by the fall in passenger numbers due to coronavirus, and government help for these sectors goes hand in hand with preparing them for net zero.

For business more widely, this is also about being ready to adapt to the push for net zero - something which many firms will already have underway. It is not known whether the move to working from home will last until 2030, but the government is serious about the shift to greener transport over the next decade. Businesses can prepare for this by installing electric vehicle charging points in car parks and making space for more bicycles and e-scooters, as well as offering employees tax-free discounts on new bikes through cycle to work schemes.

With potential investment in new technology and Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement focusing on “green collar” jobs as part of the post-coronavirus recovery plan, it is clear that companies that use environmentally-friendly products and processes will be better equipped to adapt to the 2030 landscape.