Engaging adolescents is critical to encouraging future climate change adaptation and mitigation behaviours. Adolescents are typically more receptive to climate change messages than adults, but educators and communicators need research-based strategies for optimizing engagement, including information about what factors are most influential in changing behaviours. To better understand how communication with teachers, friends and family, climate change knowledge and climate change concern predict climate change behaviour, we administered a survey to a random sample of middle school students in North Carolina, USA (n = 1371). We measured climate change behaviour with a multi-item scale asking respondents about energy conservation, alternative transportation and engagement with environmental issues. We found that climate change concern and discussing climate change with family and friends predicted climate change behaviour. We also found that students from urban, high socioeconomic status schools were more likely to engage in climate change behaviour than students in urban, low socioeconomic status schools or rural schools. These results suggest that education efforts should leverage communication with family and friends in programming designed to encourage climate change behaviour. Further, efforts to promote climate change behaviour among low socioeconomic status urban and rural adolescents may be warranted, but would benefit from further investigation into the ideological, physical and knowledge-based drivers of behaviour differences documented in this study.