Editor’s Note: Abigail E. Disney is an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker and activist. Her latest film, “The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales,” co-directed with Kathleen Hughes, made its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own. Read more opinion at CNN.

My fondest memories as a child were of the times I spent with my grandfather at Disneyland. As a co-founder of the Walt Disney Company, Roy O. Disney’s visits to “the park,” as we called it, usually involved him talking to managers and other employees about the work of making it “the happiest place on earth” for the millions of guests flowing through its gates every year.

Abigail Disney Oxfam America

There was one thing he always made a point to do shortly after stepping through the employee entrance along Main Street, U.S.A.: He would bend over and pick up a piece of trash. It’s an odd thing for a C-suite executive to do, so one day I asked him why he did it.

“Because,” he said, “no one is too good to pick up a piece of garbage.”

That humble gesture feels a million miles away from me today, as many corporations and the wealthy drive changes that separate them and their interests from the well-being of the planet and everyone else on it. We are currently on track to reach 2.8°C of warming by the end of the century, which would lead to even more frequent and widespread extreme weather events like droughts and floods that endanger our livelihoods, our crops and our biodiversity.

Any serious effort to tackle the climate crisis must include policies and actions that phase out fossil fuels, but should also urgently address the biggest sources of global emissions – beginning with billionaires and the corporations they control.

For decades, the most powerful voices have called on private individuals to recycle their soda cans, use less water and “go green” – all the while smoothing the way for the biggest corporate polluters to carry on with – and even grow – their toxic impact. According to new Oxfam research, the company investments of just 125 billionaires emit 393 million metric tons of CO2 each year, equivalent to the emissions of France.

Let that sink in: 125 individuals, no better, no worse and certainly no more important than any other 125 individuals, are responsible for hundreds of millions of metric tons of carbon emissions.

Those same 125 billionaires also sit on the boards of various charities and foundations. Many probably attend expensive fundraisers for worthy causes and take beautiful care of their children and grandchildren. But all the charity and good intentions on earth will do nothing to address the climate crisis, compared to what those 125 individuals could do were they to use their power, access and clout to disrupt the destructive course our carbon economy is currently on.

Indeed, billionaires hold extensive stakes in many of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations, and therefore they hold the power – as individuals – to influence the way companies act. They help shape the future of our economy. And many of them stand by as corporations set and then fail to meet one social responsibility goal after another, primarily because of the drive to deliver value for shareholders and other investors.

Companies should not be paying dividends or buying back shares if they fail to respect an emissions trajectory that aligns with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN’s sustainable development goals.

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    They must practice corporate social responsibility and first invest a portion of their annual profits into their efforts to support decarbonization, decrease air and water pollution, uphold feminist principles and guarantee a living wage for all employees. Human dignity and the future of the planet must come before profits.

    I find myself longing for some sign that my grandfather’s humble sense of the common good is inspiring others to want to craft a future in which we can all thrive. We have the power to create a society that prioritizes care of communities over the pocketbooks of fossil fuel companies. A just and equitable world is possible, and with imagination and courage, we can make it a reality.