Cat videos may not be the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating climate change, but its something researchers warn could have a serious environmental impact.

“We do have to stop watching these stupid cat videos if we’re serious about saving the planet,” Emma Mohr-McClune, service director at GlobalData, said in a new podcast.

Okay, it’s not the cat videos themselves that are the real culprit behind climate change. Instead, McClune explains that videos of kittens discovering that they have four paws are a symptom of something worse: telecommunication companies’ insistence that consumers consume more and more stuff.

She made the comments during a wider discussion about how telecoms are attempting to achieve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets. ESG encompasses areas ranging between climate change and human rights to risk management and treating workers fairly.

While acknowledging that telecoms have made strides in boosting their energy efficiency and improving employee health, they still fail when it comes to tackling the question of over-consumption.

“If you think of the way that B2C carriers have gone to market, they’ve encouraged users to binge on unlimited videos and data,” Mohr-McClune argued. “They’ve bundled handsets, they’ve aggressively encouraged consumers to think about upgrading early [and buying] new hardware.

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“At the same time, of course, they put a lot of energy into recycling, but still the key go to mass market is all about consuming more – and that doesn’t chime well with today’s mindfulness of using the internet in a sustainable way.”

Mohr-McClune encouraged telecoms to reflect on how they’ve approached these issues in the past and to look for the future.

The news comes as the UK is facing another scorcher this week, with the mercury being expected to rise as high as 36°C in places.

Technology can only play a negligible role in protecting against another heatwave. However, every little bit helps to prevent climate change, even pressing pause on that next silly cat video.

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.