Volkswagen's recent scandal illustrates that regulating auto emissions is a tricky job, and the differing rules in various countries only make that challenge more difficult. GM's global powertrain boss Dan Nicholson wants to knock down those barriers when he becomes president of the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (Fisita) next year, and one of his major goals will be to unify emissions standards between the US and Europe.

The change could help reduce air pollution and lower development costs. "With different sets of rules, we have to put our engineering resources into nuanced regulatory differences rather than working on the root problem," he said to Automotive News Europe.

Nicholson would like to see global rule sharing, similar to the relationship between the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board in the US. He even thinks cooperation with China could be possible on the issue, according to Automotive News Europe.

The idea to coordinate emissions rules internationally isn't new, but getting governments to cooperate will pose challenges. Officials in the European Union already have serious problems creating new CO2 limits there. Nicholson's plan would mean two continents at the negotiating table, and a consensus on the regulations could be difficult to find.

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