UPSC Prelims: Environment & Ecology Trend Analysis

Environment and ecology is a very important segment of the UPSC prelims syllabus. What makes it interesting is that it is intertwined with current affairs immensely. It also has an overlap with other subjects such as geography, economy and social issues for the IAS exam. Every year, several questions are asked from this section in the IAS prelims and also the mains exam. In 2018, there were 13 questions from environment and ecology sections in the IAS prelims. This number could also go up in the future if you consider the importance of issues like climate change, global warming, conservation and so on. The topics have both an India- and a global perspective. In this article, we discuss the trend analysis of the environment and ecology section in the past IAS prelims papers.

Another noteworthy point is that the inclusion of the Indian Forest Services prelims exam along with the civil services exam has made this topic immensely important.

Take a look at the following table. It gives the number of questions asked from environment and ecology in the UPSC CSE prelims from 2011 (when the section was introduced) to 2018.


Number of Questions

















As evident from the above table, the average number of questions asked from environment and ecology segment in the IAS prelims exam is around 20. That is a substantial number. So, this topic is unavoidable and if thoroughly prepared, has the capacity to fetch you good marks as well. Most of the questions asked from this segment are direct and factual, although this cannot be taken for granted. Some of the important topics in this section are environment fundamentals (such as climate change, climate agreements, biodiversity, etc.), pollution and government schemes related to pollution, REDD+, IUCN, Earth Hour, Montreaux Record, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), animals and their conservation status, Red List, etc.

In 2018, as mentioned before there were 13 questions from environment. These questions were a mix of static and dynamic. There were five questions each from dynamic and static segments and the remaining three can be said to be a mix of both.

So, if you wish to clear the IAS Prelims, do have a systematic approach to the environment and ecology section and keep a tab on current affairs in this context.

Some of the questions asked from environment and ecology in the UPSC prelims 2018 are given below:

Q.The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) a UN mechanism to assist countries transition towards greener and more inclusive economies, emerged at

  1. The Earth Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, Johannesburg
  2. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, Rio de Janeiro
  3. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2015, Paris
  4. The World Sustainable Development Summit 2016, New Delhi

Answer: b

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Most of the world’s coral reefs are in tropical waters.
  2. More than one-third of the world’s coral reefs are located in the territories of Australia, Indonesia and Philippines.
  3. Coral reefs host far more number of animal phyla than those hosted by tropical rainforests.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 3 only
  3. 1and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: d

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