With the DNC refusing to set up a climate-focused primary debate, The New Republic and Gizmodo announced Thursday that they've scheduled a "presidential climate summit" in New York City on Sept. 23.

Why it matters: The event, if top-tier candidates attend, will probe the 2020 hopefuls in a way that's vastly more in-depth than what's possible in a multi-topic debate.

  • Candidates would appear one by one to answer questions the outlets are crafting with input from Columbia University's Earth Institute.
  • The first two debates in Miami last month saw just around 15 minutes combined devoted to the topic.

The intrigue: TNR's Emily Atkin and Gizmodo's Brian Kahn stressed in the announcement that they'd like to set up an actual debate — if the DNC changes its tune.

  • Its current policy is that candidates who appear in unsanctioned debates, as opposed to "forums" where they're not onstage together, can be barred from official debates the party sets up with major news outlets.

What's next: We'll see which candidates attend. Atkin told me that outreach to the campaigns during preliminary planning revealed "a lot of interest." The event will occur the same day as a major UN climate conference in NYC.

The other side: DNC chairman Tom Perez, in a Medium post last month, explained why he's rebuffing calls to set up a climate debate.

Go deeper: Climate change is a massive issue for Democrats in 2020

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