The Great Barrier Reef should be put on a list of World Heritage Sites that are “in danger” over harm caused by climate change, Unesco says.
The UN’s cultural body says the world’s biggest coral reef system should be downgraded to the list at a meeting next month.
It is urging Australia to take “accelerated action” on global warming.
But the Australian government said it would “strongly oppose” the recommendation.
The latest row is part of an ongoing dispute between Unesco and the Australian government over the status of the reef, which gained World Heritage ranking in 1981. Unesco had debated whether it should go on the “in danger” list in 2017.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the government had been “stunned” by the latest announcement, calling it a “backflip on previous assurances from UN officials” that the step would not be taken.
Rising sea temperatures as a result of global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels are the main reason the reef has been severely damaged, scientists say.
There have been several “bleaching” events on the reef in the past five years.