Europe’s lax speed limits once appeared irrevocable. Global warming and pollution are changing that.

After a year of major global climate protests and groundbreaking court rulings, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday grudgingly announced that his government would lower maximum daytime speed limits on many highways from about 81 mph to 62 mph.

The change is part of a broader — and potentially only temporary — set of measures that are supposed to curb emissions. But they could signal a growing momentum for similar proposals across Europe that would align European maximum speed limits more with their, on average, lower U.S. equivalents.

Rutte was widely considered to be a pro-motorist leader. But in May, the country’s top court ruled that the Netherlands was violating European Union law and needed to drastically curb nitrogen pollution and nitrogen oxide emissions — a source of global warming — through farming, construction or vehicle exhaust.